Affordable marine biofuels in large quantities could soon be available thanks to XFuel. The company announced it is developing modular, scaleable, refineries for a second-generation biofuel. It is compatible with existing ISO marine fossil fuel specifications and the company claims is significantly lower cost than currently available biofuels.
Through its patented process, XFuel transforms biomass waste into drop-in biofuels and currently has a demonstration plant in Spain with an annual capacity of around 1m litres. Now, XFuel is preparing for larger projects around the world which would be capable of supplying the volumes required by the marine industry.
Nicholas Ball, CEO of XFuel explains the process: “The way we go about this as a single conversion step, it is very efficient in terms of the energy we use to produce our fuels. And we use temperatures and pressures that are very low, comparatively to the industry, which means our equipment is very kind of low cost. So, our capex requirements are also very low.”
The result, XFuel says, is they can produce high quality biofuels for marine and other industries at a lower cost. Ball is coy though when it comes to how much this is in terms of price of XFuel’s marine biofuels compared to conventional ones currently in the market. He did, though, describe it as “compelling” although also dependent on the project and feedstock availability.
The result is a drop-in biofuel, compatible with the ISO 8217 (2017) standard for fossil fuels. Nonetheless, the lack of an international standard for biofuels is seen as one of their barriers to large scale adoption. “We actually are technically the same as what you would find in fossil fuel in terms of the specs and meeting those specs,” Ball says.
XFuel uses primarily wood waste from the construction industry, furniture waste, as well as forestry and agricultural waste as feedstock. According to Ball, they are working with feedstock aggregators and waste management companies. “We focus on all different types and that’s what makes it so compelling is that really, we have, you know, plenty available for us from the waste streams,” he says.
So far, the company has done analysis and carried out trials of its biofuel with various engine types. However, a full vessel test is still pending, which would require 20 to 30 tonnes of fuel. Ball sees partners for vessel tests as the next stage to commercialisation of its product.
XFuel is focusing on expansion and building out of plants in multiple locations. “Where we are right now is looking for off takers and people are interested in [the product], we’re talking to some of the largest shipping companies and others that are interested in pre-ordering this, interested in the product, doing their tests and analysis on our fuels,” Ball says.
Ball added that their first commercial project is coming soon, with another to be announced in Europe soon.