Fulcrum lands Phase 1 defense grant for MSW-to-jet fuel plant

By Susanne Retka Schill | May 31, 2013

Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. has successfully demonstrated the conversion of municipal solid waste (MSW) into renewable jet and diesel fuels. It also announced it has received a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to begin engineering and development on a plant to produce jet fuel.

Fulcrum’s proposed 10 MMgy cellulosic ethanol Sierra BioFuels project sited in McCarran, Nev., will not be affected by the work being done on new fuel options using Fulcrum’s thermochemical conversion process. “Financing for Sierra Biofuels continues to progress as well as the final engineering efforts,” company spokesperson Karen Bunton said. “We expect to close on both the USDA loan guarantee and private financing in the third quarter, at which time we will commence construction of the project.”

Fulcrum announced it has successfully demonstrated its drop-in fuel process using its fully-integrated process demonstration plant in Durham, N.C. The plant includes the same MSW sorting, gasification and fuel production systems that will be utilized in Fulcrum's commercial-scale plants.

Fulcrum will match the defense grant with $4.7 million of its own capital to complete the engineering and development of Fulcrum’s first MSW-to-jet fuel plant. The plant will produce jet fuel at a lower cost to the military and with lower carbon emissions than petroleum jet fuel, according to the company.

“We have not selected a specific location of the project,” Bunton said. “We are evaluating several locations throughout the western U.S. where we have secured long-term, zero cost MSW feedstock.  We will commit to a specific location later in Phase I as we prepare our application for a grant under Phase II of the DOD program.”

"Fuel diversity adds an integral component to our innovative business plan, creating a platform to offer customers the product they want, in the market they want. Our process is now capable of producing jet fuel, diesel and ethanol from residential garbage that would otherwise be landfilled," said E. James Macias, Fulcrum's president and CEO. "Fulcrum's large development program, backed by secured MSW, will have the capacity to produce more than half a billion gallons of fuel in markets across North America at lower costs compared to conventional petroleum fuel, while reducing carbon emissions by more than 80 percent," he added.

“Adding jet fuel and diesel to our business model opens up significant market opportunities throughout North America—a market that represents 80 billion gallons of transportation fuels,” Bunton added. “We also remain enthusiastic about ethanol as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels and will continue to develop ethanol projects that meet our overall development and investment criteria.”