Genifuel Corporation, Reliance Industries Ltd., Merrick & Company, Springs Fabrication, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have completed design, fabrication, and commissioning of Genifuel’s pilot-scale hydrothermal processing system. The feedstock for the system is wet organic material (up to 85% water), which the system converts by temperature, pressure, and catalysis into oil and methane gas. Both the liquid and gas products are similar to their fossil fuel equivalents. The biocrude oil can be refined by conventional processes into finished fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, while the methane gas can be used to produce renewable electricity. It is now being installed at Reliance’s large algae growth facility in Gagva, India.

The system was tested at oil production rates between 1,000 and 2,000 liters per day, which is a much higher throughput than any previous demonstration of the technology and demonstrates its scalability. In addition to algae slurries, the system can process a wide variety of other organic waste slurries. Processing such wet wastes is a “triple win” for the environment, since it remediates greenhouse-gas-emitting wet wastes, produces renewable fuels, and produces clear, sterile water as a byproduct. Other feedstocks that have been tested previously include wastewater solids (sewage sludge), food waste, animal wastes such as dairy cow manure, and many others including chemical processing wastes. All of these waste streams can be similarly converted into useful oil and gas.

The technology was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Energy at PNNL in Richland, WA and is licensed to Genifuel Corporation of Salt Lake City, UT, which has jointly developed additional patents with PNNL. Merrick & Company ( of Greenwood Village, CO engineered and led commissioning of the system, which was fabricated by Springs Fabrication of Colorado Springs, CO.