Solena Fuels Frequently Asked Questions

What is unique about Solena’s Integrated Biomass Gas to Liquid (“IBGTL”) biofuel solution?

First, our proprietary technology allows us to use sustainable, inexpensive feedstocks such as garbage/rubbish (MSW) and wood waste. When coupled with the high level of efficiency of our system, this inexpensive feedstock allows us to sell our fuel directly to end users at spot prices with no subsidies. Due to the limitations of their technology, most alternative fuels companies must focus on more expensive, homogenous feedstock such as wood chips, corn and sugarcane.

These feedstocks are:

  • geographically limited,
  • more expensive,
  • viewed unfavorably by end users concerned with sustainability/indirect land use issues.

Second, we utilize an industry accepted technology to upgrade our fuels. Fischer-Tropsch (FT) is a system long utilized in the petroleum industry to convert synthetic gas into jet and diesel fuels. These FT fuels have been certified by ASTM and DEFSTAN for decades and, as such, airlines and other end users have a high degree of comfort in utilizing them. Solena’s fuels will require no testing or modifications of current infrastructure or engines.

What does Solena mean by “sustainable synthetic fuels?”

A sustainable fuel is one that meets or exceeds established sustainability methodologies such as the European Renewable Energy Directive. A synthetic fuel is one that is refined by a Fischer-Tropsch process – a well-known, industry certified platform. Our fuels will be both sustainable and synthetic. Solena’s sustainable synthetic fuel will be a “drop-in” ASTM certified fuel that allows the aviation, maritime and road transportation industries to utilize a sustainable energy source without any modifications or changes to their engines or infrastructure.

Why is Solena focusing on synthetic fuels?

Solena Fuels believes that focusing on synthetic Fischer-Tropsch fuels has two distinct advantages over bio-based conversion processes utilizing enzymes and microbes. First, it is a fuel that airlines are very familiar with and have a high degree of comfort in working with given its ASTM certification which dates many decades back. Second, from a technology perspective, large scale synthetic/FT fuel plants are in extensive use today and represent a higher degree of comfort for EPC contractors.

Does Solena own any patents?

Yes, Solena owns patents as it relates to the single-phase, high temperature gasification system which is the initial processing block for our IBGTL solution. It is the critical piece of technology that allows us to efficiently utilize garbage/rubbish as a sustainable feedstock.

What other projects employ high-temperature gasification?

There are several high-temperature gasification systems in use today. However, these systems have historically focused purely on waste destruction and rely on tipping fees to be economical. Solena’s system was engineered with a focus on energy efficiency and extraction.

What is the potential of biofuels in aviation?

While the aviation market represents only 7% of the petroleum supply chain, it has several unique attributes that make it attractive for biofuel use. First, the likelihood of jets using a fuel source other than a high energy dense, liquid fuel is remote. Planes simply don’t have the luxury of going hybrid or some other alternative energy source. Second, airlines are large institutional buyers of fuel and have the ability to contract directly with us for the purchase of the fuel. These two attributes mean airlines are willing and able to sign large contracts with fuel producers – Solena’s with BA is valued at ~$500MM over ten years. The overall market potential is several hundred billion dollars per year.

What other fuels markets is Solena active in?

In addition to the aviation market, we see a big opportunity in the marine sector. New sulfur regulations put upon the maritime sector by the IMO are increasing the demand for middle distillates/gasoil such as ultra-low sulfur diesel. Solena’s fuels will be near sulfur free. It is widely expected that the price of MGO/Ultra low sulfur fuel will increase more rapidly than the general petroleum market as more and more low sulfur fuels are mandated and more sour crude is bought on line without adequate refining capacity. This increase in demand and the ability to contract directly with the end user (as in the case of aviation) makes the industry unique when compared to the road transportation distribution system which is controlled by large petroleum companies.

How do you respond to concerns that biofuels themselves produce emissions over their lifespan and some potentially displace food crops if produced en masse?

Solena’s solution utilizes waste biomass, which does not compete with food crops or require indirect land use change (ILUC), but rather it is biomass waste that would otherwise be destined for landfill. Third party studies have shown that, following the Life Cycle Analysis methodologies set forth by the EU Roundtable of Sustainable Biofuel and Renewable Energy Directive (RED), Solena’s fuels will exceed the established thresholds by a wide margin.

In simple, laymen’s terms, how would the bio-fuel process work? How will Solena take the waste and make jet fuel? And how long does it take?

In laymen’s terms, our solution includes two primary steps, the first when the waste is converted into a gas and the second when the gas is converted into a liquid that will produce a synthetic ‘drop-in’ jet and/or diesel fuel. The first process is thermal (uses heat to accomplish its objectives) and the second is chemical (uses chemical catalysts to achieve its objective).

An animation of the process can be viewed here.