Engineering News

Rentech: Miss. Synfuels Plant Will Produce Fewer GHGs Than Refinery
February 05, 2009

Rentech, Inc. announced Thursday that greenhouse gas emissions from its planned synthetic fuels facility near Natchez, Miss., are expected to be lower than those from conventional crude refineries. This is based on the results of a third-party life-cycle assessment of the carbon footprint of fuels to be produced at the proposed Natchez plant. The study was commissioned by Rentech and reviewed independently. An unrelated new study by the United States Department of Energy confirms comparable results for fuel production using technology similar to Rentech's.

The life-cycle analysis evaluated the design of the Company's proposed Natchez plant using petroleum coke as feedstock with the Rentech Process to produce approximately 30,000 barrels per day of ultra-clean synthetic fuels, specialty waxes and chemicals. Rentech's fuels are biodegradable, cleaner-burning and have a longer shelf life than traditional petroleum-derived fuels. The facility is designed to capture approximately 80% of the carbon dioxide generated in the production process to be sold under a long-term agreement with Denbury Resources for enhanced oil recovery in the region.

The well-to-wheels greenhouse gas analysis of the proposed Natchez facility, performed John Marano, concluded that the fuels from the facility would produce 11% to 23% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than would result from fuels produced from conventional crude refining. The study is based on a proposed design of the Natchez facility, which includes carbon capture and sequestration. This result is an improvement over previous studies of synthetic fuels plants that suggested that carbon capture and storage would reduce emissions to levels comparable to that of conventional petroleum processes. The highest level of improvement is attributable to comparisons of Rentech's fuels to heavy, low quality crude typical of Venezuela and other parts of the world. The addition of biomass as a co-feed could further improve the carbon footprint of the proposed Natchez facility as well as generate carbon displacement credits. The full study will be posted on the Company's website when available.

The findings by Marano are in line with a recently published report by the United States Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) entitled, "Affordable, Low-Carbon Diesel Fuel from Domestic Coal and Biomass." The NETL report concluded that coal-based synthetic fuels facilities yield a 5% to 12% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to conventional fuels produced at a standard U.S. refinery. In addition, the NETL study reported that greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 75% can be achieved by adding up to 30% biomass as a co-feed. The report also concluded that synthetic fuels produced using the Fischer-Tropsch process, on which Rentech's technology is based, can improve energy security and help reduce the impact of high and volatile oil prices on the U.S. economy as well as mitigate greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. The NETL report is accessible on Rentech's website at

Commenting on the carbon life-cycle analyses, Richard Penning, Executive Vice President of Technology and Commercial Affairs for Rentech, said, "We view the NETL study as a validation of our third-party life-cycle assessment conducted for a modern designed commercial scale synthetic fuels facility using the Rentech Process. The analysis found that our RenJet and RenDiesel fuels have lower greenhouse gas footprints than conventional fuels. In addition to the environmental benefits of our fuels and production process, we believe that domestic production of synthetic fuels from the Rentech Process could help improve domestic energy security, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and stimulate the economy by creating investments in America and American jobs."

Rentech, Inc., incorporated in 1981, provides clean energy solutions. The Rentech Process is a patented and proprietary technology that converts synthesis gas from biomass and fossil resources into hydrocarbons that can be processed and upgraded into ultra-clean synthetic fuels, specialty waxes and chemicals. Rentech Energy Midwest Corporation, the Company's wholly owned subsidiary, manufactures and sells fertilizer products including ammonia, urea ammonia nitrate, urea granule and urea solution to the corn-belt region.

Marano is an engineering consultant whose current activities are focused on the assessment of conventional and alternative transportation fuels, advanced power generation systems and carbon sequestration technologies. His clients include the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Energy Information Administration and Energy Policy Office. Marano holds a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh where he is an adjunct faculty member. He obtained M.S. and B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toledo.

Source: Rentech, Inc.

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