Joint venture will pursue smaller-scale gas-to-liquids opportunities

Waste Management’s East Oak site in Oklahoma is the first facility under development.

March 28, 2014
REW Staff

A joint venture (JV) has been formed to produce renewable fuels and chemicals from biogas and natural gas using smaller-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology. The announcement was made by Waste Management Inc. (WM), Houston; Ventech Engineers International LLC, Pasadena, Texas; NRG Energy Inc., Princeton, N.J.; and Velocys plc, Houston; and will be comprised by respective company subsidiaries, WM Organic Growth Inc., NRG GTL Holdings LLC, VPI LF-GTL LLC and Velocys Inc.

WM says as part of its commitment to sustainability, it continually explores new ways to extract value from the biogas managed at its landfills. Under this program, Waste Management has pioneered the use of smaller-scale GTL using landfill gas, including building and operating a demonstration unit at East Oak landfill in Oklahoma. The demonstration unit has accumulated more than 10,000 hours of successful operation.

“From developing gas recovery and cleanup techniques, to registering GTL diesel as a fuel for on-highway use, Waste Management has been a leader in this area.” says Joe Vaillancourt, WM’s vice president, corporate venturing. “We are pleased to take this opportunity forward with a very strong team. Velocys’ leading smaller-scale GTL technology, Ventech’s engineering capabilities and NRG’s clean energy development expertise will complement Waste Management’s strengths in the joint venture.”

Ventech has optimized the design and engineering of the JV’s first facility. “Ventech brings to the joint venture its deep expertise in the development of modular construction and specialized fabrication of refineries, gas processing systems and chemical facilities, and we are proud to be able to apply our significant and specific expertise to this effort,” says Kevin Stanley, CEO of Ventech Engineers International.

NRG says it has experience in developing large renewable capital projects, strong green customer focus and expertise in the acquisition and transportation of large quantities of natural gas to the JV. “With one of the largest and most diverse generation fleets in America, including extensive natural gas generation capacity and a leading solar portfolio as well as numerous innovative and green options for large and small customers, NRG is focused on delivering cleaner and smarter energy choices,” says John Ragan, executive vice president and regional president, Gulf Coast, NRG. “We are pleased to be part of this joint venture that fits squarely within our commitment to provide customers with more options to reduce their environmental profile and look forward to helping develop the capabilities to leverage biogas and natural gas resources into a source for higher value, clean burning diesel fuel.”

Velocys, a smaller-scale GTL technology provider, will supply the Fischer-Tropsch reactor and catalyst to the joint venture. “With the benefit of more than 15 years of development, over $300 million of investment, and the world’s largest microchannel patent portfolio, Velocys is pleased to bring its leading position in smaller-scale GTL technology to this partnership and the exciting opportunities being pursued together,” says Roy Lipski, Velocys’ CEO.

The first facility is under development and will be located at WM’s East Oak site in Oklahoma. The joint venture intends making a final decision to proceed on this first plant this year. Engineering and design work is substantially complete, final draft permitting documents have been submitted, and development activities for additional facilities are expected to commence shortly.