Merrick & Company has been engaged by Genifuel Corporation to provide the design and commissioning of a hydrothermal processing pilot system for Reliance Industries. Merrick was responsible for the design of the facility, from front-end engineering through detailed design and testing. The system uses heat, pressure, and catalysts to chemically and physically convert wet feedstocks to natural gas or oil that can then be further refined into aviation fuel, gasoline, and diesel. The system is skid-mounted with electrical, instrumentation, and controls components that are compatible with the standards of India, where it will be expanded to a larger scale after testing is finalized on the current system. Springs Fabrication fabricated the skids, installed all the equipment on them, and provided space and utilities for commissioning. 

The technology originated at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. The Federal Laboratory Consortium just awarded PNNL the 2015 Excellence in Technology Transfer for its work on the project. The current system will process algae, and unlike traditional extraction methods, which separate lipids out of algae to make biodiesel, PNNL’s process converts whole algae into biocrude, fuel gas, and usable byproducts. This doubles the yield of biofuel from algae and cuts the cost of production by 86 percent.

According to Jim Oyler, president of Genifuel Corporation, “This award demonstrates how effectively the Federal Laboratory System can work with private industry to convert taxpayer-funded R&D into economic growth for the country. Typically, successful R&D contributes many times over when it leads to a practical product, and this award recognizes the kind of collaboration that makes this possible.”

Merrick & Company (, an engineering, architecture, design-build, surveying, planning, and geospatial solutions firm, has been engaged in the energy industry since 1955 as an advisor and provider of solutions. From traditional energy sources to sustainable renewables and bioprocessing, Merrick specializes in difficult challenges. Based in Colorado, the employee-owned company maintains offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.