Reducing Air Pollution with Praj

By Dr. Patrick Gruber, PhD, CEO, Gevo, Inc.

Gevo, Inc. is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and using sustainably sourced feedstocks for our decarbonized, proprietary process to produce energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons.

When it comes to reducing pollution in the form of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, our result is renewable energy stored in these liquids that are drop-in ready to replace fossil fuels in any engine and using the same existing infrastructure. Our renewable gasoline and sustainable aviation fuel are expected to produce net-zero GHG emissions over the whole product lifecycle.

In 2020, Gevo partnered with Praj Industries, India’s most accomplished industrial biotechnology company, and signed a Master Framework Agreement (MFA) to collaborate on providing renewable, low-carbon, low-particulate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and premium gasoline in India and neighboring countries.

Gevo and Praj will provide technology, plant equipment, and EPC services to sugar mills and ethanol plants to produce renewable Isobutanol from 1G feedstock (cane juice, cane molasses, sugar syrup, etc.) and 2G feedstock (cellulosic biomass like straws, bagasse, etc.). The renewable Isobutanol will be aggregated and transferred to various refineries. Both parties will also provide technology, plant equipment, and EPC services to refineries for converting renewable Isobutanol into Sustainable Aviation Fuel and premium gasoline through the ASTM-approved pathway of Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ).

At Gevo, we always look for opportunity by finding ways to eliminate waste in a system to create something useful.

India is one of the world’s largest rice producers but suffers from widespread air pollution. White rice and brown rice are grown in the eastern and southern regions, and the crop there has seen huge leaps in productivity, including estimates in 2020 of a yield totaling 117.94 million tons. The year saw high estimates for other crops as well, including wheat and corn production.

From the rice harvest, the rice straw had traditionally been burned, releasing huge clouds of smoke across the countryside. This smoke contains carbon dioxide, which creates substantial impact on public health.

By using the rice straw as a lignocellulosic feedstock, our proprietary GIFT® (Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology) process can ferment it and turn it into isobutanol. This four-carbon alcohol can be transformed into energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons, which store renewable energy derived from every step of our process. Gevo’s SAF is using the alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene pathway.

Quality of life is impacted by reduced GHG emissions, for populations in locations where diminished air quality results in health problems.

The Apte Research Group at the University of California, Berkley, connects ambient air pollution with premature death. Globally, studies have indicated that air pollution has a huge impact on the life expectancy and quality of life. In South Asia, the pollution level ranks among the most severe in the world. In India alone, the concentration of particulate matter that’s inhalable (classified as PM2.5 because the particles measure 2.5 micrometers or less) are commonly found, an order of magnitude greater than World Health Organization guidelines. According the Apte Research Group website, “In especially polluted countries in Asia and Africa, people die on average 1.5 to 1.8 years early because of outdoor air pollution. Even in cleaner countries like the US, current PM2.5 air pollution shortens lifespans by about 0.4 years.”

Praj says our partnership will help India to achieve energy security, reducing its import bill, and meeting the nation’s climate-change goals. “We are happy to partner with Gevo, a leading renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, to expand the commercial-scale use of SAF in India,” said Dr. Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman of Praj Industries. “Praj’s technology solutions for first- and second-generation feedstock under Bio-MobilityTM platform, combined with Gevo’s ATJ, will create a winning solution to address the growing need of sustainable decarbonization.”

Our SAF is expected to have substantially reduced GHG emissions over the whole lifecycle when compared to petroleum-based products. We expect net-zero emissions in the U.S. for our products because we incorporate other feedstocks grown with renewable methods. SAF has ready applications in commercial aviation as well as in the defense sector in India. Praj has received a certification from the Indian Air Force (IAF) about their interest in using SAF. Further tests are underway at IAF.

Pursuant to the terms of our mutual Master Framework Agreement (MFA), Gevo is providing a license to Praj, which will allow carrying out basic engineering, supplying equipment, and using the jointly developed process design package to produce renewable isobutanol into gasoline and SAF for plant operators.

A copy of the MFA has been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Form 8-K.