Q: What was the reason for founding your organization – what was the open niche you saw that could be addressed with a new product or service? What was the problem, or gap, or opportunity?
Mercurius Biorefining, Inc. was established to produce profitable drop-in fuel (Diesel and Jet Fuel) from nonfood biomass feedstocks. Mercurius is developing a non-fermentation, non-alcohol based, faster ~cheaper~ better method of producing profitable drop-in biofuels.
Q: Tell us about your organization. What do you do?
Mercurius Biorefining has a patented, novel Biorefinery process that transforms low value cellulosic material into drop in diesel, jet fuel, and renewable chemicals. Renewable Acid-Hydrolysis Condensation Hydrotreating (REACH) technology takes a mild pressure and temperature liquid phase catalytic approach to unlocking the potential of cellulosic material.
In summary, cellulosic material (agricultural or forestry production residues, biogenic MSW) is delivered to the Biorefinery. First, we treat the material in an acid hydrolysis unit (similar to pulp and paper mills) to create a bio-crude and a solid char product. At this stage of the process several bio-chemicals (Levulinic Acid, Formic Acid, Furfural, Furandicarboxylic Acid (FDCA)) can be extracted for sale at a very low cost of production. The bio-crude can then be further processed through a Condensation unit into the required carbon chains resembling the liquid fuel product desired.
Q: What stage of development are you?
Pilot stage – proven at small, non-integrated scale
Q: What do your technologies, products or services do and accomplish – how does it (they) work, who is it (they) aimed for?
Mercurius uses a proprietary, patent pending technology called Renewable Acid-hydrolysis Condensation Hydrotreating (REACH) to make profitable drop-in hydrocarbon fuels.
Mercurius simultaneously addresses five key issues:
- The urgent need for a reliable, economic, scalable, drop-in biofuel;
- The production of biofuels within a highly profitable business platform;
- The ongoing need to produce biofuels from non-food biomass feedstocks;
- The production of fuels with a near carbon neutral method.
- Mercurius diesel and jet fuel will be drop-in compatible with existing fuel infrastructure.
Mercurius will also produce high-value, specialty chemical products including: FDCA, formic and levulinic acid.
Q: Competitively, what gives your technology, product or service set an edge in cost
or performance, sustainability, or any other aspect, that makes it stand out from the crowd, In short, what makes it transformative?
One way to look at the Mercurius competitive advantage is to compare its liquid phase catalytic REACH technology to competing technologies. This comparison shows a large advantage for Mercurius versus competing technologies that use cellulosic feedstock. Cellulosic ethanol technologies are estimated to be 3 to 4 times as capital intensive. Fischer Tropsch (FT) diesel production would require even more capital.
Mercurius jet/diesel also has an advantage on the operating cost side, due to high yields without expensive enzymes, microbes, or extreme operating conditions that drive up maintenance costs.
In addition, REACH achieves full carbon recovery since CO2 is not created during the conversion process. REACH converts biomass to a diesel product, as do LS9 and Amyris processes, but does not require the biomass to first be converted to sugars. Our process is not based on fermentation and does not suffer from slow reactions and is not dependent on expensive microbes.
Q: What are the 3 top milestones you have accomplished in the past 3 years?
- Scale up of the hydrolysis step of REACH from milliliters and 1 liter at bench to 400 liters at pilot.
- Production of hydrocarbon precursors in the diesel and jet fuel range in the condensation step of REACH.
- Deoxygenation and production of diesel and jet fuel range hydrocarbons from the Hydrotreating step.
Q: What are the 3 top milestones you will accomplish in the next 3 years?
- Build a pilot plant in Gladstone, QLD Australia to continuously take raw biomass (bagasse and wood waste) though all three stages of the REACH process.
- Test and refine operations during the pilot to improve yields and input recovery.
- Start the process of testing REACH diesel and jet fuel to meet ASTM standards.
- Where can I learn more about Mercurius?