At Gevo, we see a shift in paradigms. The world’s energy needs are not going to shrink anytime soon. Instead we need to change the sources of our energy, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
When many people think of game-changing technology, they look to more efficient machines or game-changing devices. Instead, Gevo has leveraged its innovative thinking to target the problem and change the one common thread—we have engineered the fuel.
Energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons make renewable energy easier to use now, setting the world on a new path to sustainability. The key is to use the best available model to measure sustainability: The Argonne National Laboratory Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies model, known as the Argonne GREET model.
At Gevo, we understand that sustainability is more than just a way to improve the future, it is the future, and we are constantly looking for ways to incorporate new ideas and technologies into our process to reduce the carbon intensity at every step of the way. The Argonne GREET model measures the carbon released to or removed from the atmosphere, but also adds in metrics for land use, food security, water-resources impact, and human rights. By focusing on decarbonizing our products and processes, Gevo has found a way to store renewable energy in a very useful form: energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons that can be blended with fossil-based transportation fuels and eventually replace them.
How Do Energy-Dense Liquid Hydrocarbons Work?
Most people are familiar with energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons. Two that immediately come to mind are gasoline and jet fuel. But Gevo’s products are different, because of where we get our energy.
The carbon in our molecules comes from renewable sources. Because we use carbon from sustainably raised corn, the carbon is actually from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the corn drew from the air using photosynthesis.
The Argonne GREET model also takes into account the energy inputs of our production process. So if we need heat for our facility or our fermentation processes, or we need electricity to run equipment or light our plant, the carbon of that process enters into the equation for the end result of our energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons.
- We use and plan to use wind turbines for electricity in our facilities. That’s clean renewable energy that removed any of the carbon intensity from a coal-fired electrical grid from our products.
- We also are developing the use of biogas from a wastewater treatment plant at our Net-Zero 1 facility (currently in development).
- Another project that is in development is the NW Iowa Project, which will use anaerobic digesters to capture renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure collected from dairy farms. This reduces GHG emissions of area farms while also capturing renewable energy.
These factors all contribute to our sustainability, and the renewable energy will be in our energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons.
Energy-Dense Liquid Hydrocarbons Could Change Emissions Now
Our renewable premium gasoline and sustainable aviation fuel contain the energy from renewable agriculture feedstocks, wind turbines, and will incorporate energy from biogas. How can we get the benefit?
That’s easy: simply fill up the fuel tank of a car, and the carbon footprint become net-zero over the life of the fuel product. When burned in today’s cars and trucks, this fuel should produce a “net-zero” greenhouse gas footprint as measured across the whole of the lifecycle.
Same goes for jets used to move people and freight around the world: Fill an airplane’s fuel tanks with Gevo’s sustainable aviation fuel and this fuel should produce a “net-zero” greenhouse gas footprint as measured across the whole of the lifecycle.
There’s no need to add special filters to the fuel system, or anything else. If and engine runs on petroleum-based gasoline, our fuel will work in it too. Same goes for aircraft that run on petrojet. Our energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons are next-generation, advanced, bio-based renewable fuels. They work in the engines, but they also work in all the infrastructure, with no ill effects.
Chemically, they are fungible with no ill effect on engines. The benefit to the environment is directly proportional to the proportion of our fuel in the tank. Currently regulations stipulate that our SAF must be blended at 50 percent with petroleum jet fuel, which would result in a 50-percent reduction in GHG emissions for every flight on which it is used—a good start and a taste of better things to come.