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North Florida Division's Drop-in Biofuel Initiative Yields Potential

September 2011

ARA’s alternative fuel effort began in 2006 in response to a U.S. military requirement for technologies that can convert renewable oils to jet fuel. To answer this challenge, ARA Principal Engineer Dr. Lixiong Li conceived an idea of using high temperature water to create biocrude. This hydrothermal process mimics the conditions encountered in nature’s process to convert biomass to petroleum crude.

Although it took millions of years to produce petroleum crude, it took just a few minutes for ARA’s Catalytic Hydrothermolysis (CH) process to produce high-quality biocrude. A U.S. patent on the CH technology was granted to ARA in 2010. The now-advanced process converts oils from plants and algae into renewable aromatic drop-in fuels that are being trademarked ReadiJet™ and ReadiDiesel™.

“The current driving factors for both the Department of Defense and civilian markets are finding a solution that is environmentally superior to petroleum and also comparable to the cost of petroleum,” said Chuck Red, ARA’s North Florida Division Manager. In addition, the material used to create the fuel must be renewable, a nonfood crop, and ready to be grown, harvested and processed.

Ed Coppola, ARA Fuels Principal Engineer, identified the first feedstock-farming cooperative in Florida, the USCJO CO-OP, as an ideal partner. USCJO and the Florida Feedstock Growers Association grow two winter crops of Camelina each year, and they are growing by thousands of acres with each successful harvest. 

“Our farm plan will show how feedstock crop rotation during the dormant, off season can increase farmer revenue and reduce risk through crop diversity,” said Bill Vasden, President of the USCJO. “It is widely accepted that biofuel production should not compete with the global food supply chain, and our plan does not.”

“This initiative is not only huge for our company’s growth, but it also has the potential to make Florida a leader in fulfilling the military and civilian markets’ requirements for alternative fuel and to revitalize farming in Florida,” Red said. 

Find out more information on alternative bio-fuels.