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Gevo presents Net-Zero Project concept

US-based biofuels- and biochemicals producer and process developer Gevo Inc., has announced the concept of Net-Zero Projects for the production of energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons using renewable energy and Gevo’s proprietary biomass conversion technology. its project currently planned to be constructed at Lake Preston, South Dakota (SD) will be the first Net-Zero Project and will be named “Net-Zero 1.”

Developed by Argonne National Laboratory, the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET) model takes into account emissions and impacts “cradle to cradle” for renewable resource-based fuels including inputs and generation of raw materials, agriculture practices, chemicals used in production processes of both feedstocks and products, energy sources used in production and transportation, and end fate of products, which for fuel products is usually combustion to release energy (graphic courtesy Argonne National Laboratory).

According to Gevo, the concept of a Net-Zero Project is to use renewable energy, derived from a variety of sources such as photosynthetic, wind, renewable natural gas (RNG), biogas to convert biomass into energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons, that when burned in traditional engines, have the potential to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the whole lifecycle of the liquid fuel – from the way carbon is captured from the atmosphere, processed to make liquid fuel products, and including the end-use as a fuel for cars, planes, trucks, and ships.

Gevo’s planned Lake Preston project in South Dakota (SD) will be the first Net-Zero Project and will be named “Net-Zero 1.” Gevo expects that Net-Zero 1 would have the capability to produce liquid hydrocarbons that when burned have a “net-zero” GHG footprint.

This is not a new project but rather the first of the projects that we have been working on with Citigroup to get financed. We are naming our future projects Net-Zero to make clear the mission we are on to reduce GHG emissions. By using carbon from the air as our raw material source with its inherent low-carbon-footprint, sustainable agriculture, a combination of renewable energy obtained from photosynthesis, wind, and biogas, we see that it is possible to transform renewable energy into liquid hydrocarbon fuels that work with combustion engines typical of cars, planes, and trucks with the added benefit that these fuels have a net-zero carbon footprint across the whole lifecycle. Think about it: it is conceivable to eliminate tailpipe emissions from cars, planes, and trucks on a net GHG basis while leveraging existing cars, planes, and trucks on a full ‘cradle to cradle’ GHG basis, explained Dr Patrick R. Gruber, CEO of Gevo.

Net-Zero 1 is currently expected to have an annual capacity of 45 million (US) gallons (≈ 170 million litres) of renewable hydrocarbons for gasoline and jet fuel, based on current take-or-pay contracts. Furthermore, it will produce more than 350 million pounds (≈ 158 900 tonnes) per year of high protein feed products for use in the food chain.

In addition, it will produce enough renewable natural gas (RNG) to be self-sufficient for the production process heat needs, and also to generate renewable electricity with a combined heat and power (CHP) system. Net-Zero 1 is also expected to utilize wind energy.

Net-Zero based on GREET model

Because of the low-carbon footprint feedstocks, the sustainable agricultural practices used to produce feedstock, and the use of renewable energy for the production processes, much of which is expected to be generated on-site, the hydrocarbon fuel products produced at Net-Zero 1 have the potential to achieve net-zero GHG emissions as measured across the whole of the lifecycle based on Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET) model, the pre-eminent science-based lifecycle analysis model.

The capital cost for Net-Zero 1 is projected to be on the order of US$700 million including hydrocarbon production and related renewable energy infrastructure which includes anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce biogas to run the plant and generate some electricity on-site.

Citigroup is assisting Gevo in raising the necessary capital for Net-Zero 1.

Our Net-Zero 1 Project isn’t just about capturing renewable energy and carbon, and transforming it into liquid renewable energy; it’s also about generating enormous quantities of protein, and nutrition for the food chain. The high protein feed would be low-carbon footprint too—and we are happy to help farmers raise beef, pigs, chicken, and dairy in a way that lowers GHG emissions. We’ve got work to do to make it all happen. We believe that there will be demand for additional Net-Zero projects in the future, ended Dr Patrick R. Gruber.

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