The company says it will initially focus on Southeast Asia.
NextFuels, a Los Altos, Calif.–based firm involved in converting agricultural residue into biofuels, has unveiled a plan to produce transportation and industrial fuels from wet, unprocessed agricultural waste.
NextFuels says the technology behind the project, first developed by Shell Oil several years ago, will allow NextFuels and its partners to produce biobased petroleum at commercial scale for $75 to $85 a barrel out of wet biomass that has not been mechanically or thermally dried.
NextFuels notes that it is collaborating on its commercial strategy with Enagra, a biofuel trading company with extensive contacts and partnerships throughout the industry. The two companies are owned by the same investors and managed by executives with extensive experience in biofuels.
“Dr. Frans Goudriaan and Dr. Jaap Naber have been working on this technology for almost 30 years. With Dr. Ralph Overend’s extensive background in the biomass and biofuels space, we are extremely excited to be moving this unique technology forward,” says Michael Petras, CEO of NextFuels. “While we have a lot of work ahead of us, we look forward to helping solve the biomass issue in Malaysia.”
NextFuels says it uses a system called bioliquefaction that transforms agricultural biomass to green energy. According to the company, its process does not need to dry biomass before processing. Rather, its process has been designed to work with wet biomass. As a result, the energy balance achieved by NextFuels process is about 65-70 percent of the energy put into the system becomes useable energy, the company adds.
NextFuels is currently raising funds to rebuild a bioliquefaction demonstration plant, originally created by Shell in 2005. The Shell system ran for more than 1,000 hours and is capable of producing 5 to 8 barrels of oil a day, the company says. Enagra and others will finance the cost of reassembling it and demonstrating production over the next 18 months. Within two to three years, NextFuels anticipates it will start to build its first commercial scale modules capable of producing 250 barrels of oil equivalent a day.
The company says that its typical size of its plant will include four modules that will be capable of producing 1,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. The cost to bring the plants to commercial scale will cost around $20 million with the expectation that the price will decline in price over time.