ClearFuels executes MOU for synthetic jet refinery

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Biorefineries developer ClearFuels Technology has inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with manufacturer Hughes Hardwood International for the development of a commercial scale refinery facility for the production of synthetic jet or diesel fuel.

The MOU follows voluntary standards development organisation ASTM International last year passing a specification to enable the use of up to 50% blends of synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) derived from the Fischer-Tropsch process. Last year ASTM also modified the existing specification for aviation turbine fuel to recognize fuels made with synthetic components.

The forthcoming facility will be co-located with Hughes Hardwood's wood component products manufacturing facility in Collinwood, Tennessee.

Under the MOU, Hughes Hardwood will supply 1,000 dry ton per day of wood product for conversion into roughly 16 million gallons of synthetic jet or diesel fuel.

A groundbreaking is set for 2011 and the facility is expected to be operational by early 2014.

The MOU comes after the US Energy Department selected ClearFuels in December 2009 to receive up to $23 million in grant money to construct a biomass gasifier at synthetic fuels producer Rentech's energy technology center outside Denver. Rentech holds a 25% stake in ClearFuels.

ClearFuels expects to begin receiving funds from this grant by the end of March, and the forthcoming Colorado facility is expected to be complete in late 2011.