Rentech, ClearFuels project receives full funding

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 31, 2010

LOS ANGELES — Rentech, Inc. (NYSE AMEX: RTK) and ClearFuels Technology Inc. (ClearFuels) jointly announced lat week that a cooperative agreement has been signed with the U.S. Department of Energy to receive the remaining $19.7 million of a $23 million grant to complete construction of a demonstration scale biomass gasifier at Rentech’s Energy Technology Center (RETC) in Colorado, and to integrate and operate it with Rentech’s Product Demonstration Unit for the production of renewable synthetic fuels from biomass.

The DOE selected the project in December 2009 to receive funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to validate refining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of an advanced biofuels industry in the United States.

The grant is being used to manufacture and install at RETC a 20 ton-per-day ClearFuels biomass gasifier designed to produce synthesis gas from various wood waste and sugar cane bagasse feedstocks. The gasifier will be integrated with Rentech’s existing PDU at the site, which uses the Rentech Process and UOP’s upgrading technologies, to produce renewable drop-in synthetic jet and diesel fuels at demonstration scale.

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This joint demonstration of an integrated bio-refinery is anticipated to be completed in late 2011 and will lead to the final design basis for commercial facilities that are expected to use the combined technologies. The team for the demonstration project includes ClearFuels, Rentech, URS, Linde/Hydro-Chem, Hawaiian Electric Company, National Renewable Energy Lab and Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.

Rentech has a 25 percent strategic ownership interest in ClearFuels, which has begun development of multiple commercial-scale biomass-to-energy projects in the southeastern United States, Hawaii and internationally. These projects are expected to use an integrated ClearFuels-Rentech design and be co-located at biomass processing facilities.

Commenting on the award, D. Hunt Ramsbottom, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rentech, said, “We are pleased that the joint bio-refinery project continues to move forward, with the support of the Department of Energy to demonstrate the integration of Rentech’s and ClearFuels’ technologies for the production of renewable synthetic fuels.” Mr. Ramsbottom continued, “We are pleased that the DOE continues to recognize the significance of a successful demonstration of our joint technologies and the potential to deploy them at commercial-scale renewable energy projects for the production of low-carbon renewable fuels and the creation of green jobs.”

Eric Darmstaedter, Chief Executive Officer of ClearFuels, commented, “The Rentech Energy Technology Center is an impressive facility that has already produced synthetic diesel proven by Audi in its recent 1000-mile drive as a successful drop-in fuel, as well as synthetic jet fuel certified for commercial aviation and proven by United Airlines.” Mr. Darmstaedter continued, “We believe the integration of ClearFuels’ and Rentech’s technologies, partially funded by the DOE, is an example of a successful biofuels partnership on the right track to commercially viable renewable drop-in fuels from biomass at competitive prices. ClearFuels’ commercial plans in Hawaii, in concert with the DOE-Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, and on the mainland U.S., have the potential to help with energy security, rural economic development, greenhouse gas reductions, and the creation of American jobs.”