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BioNGL And RIN Credits For Natural Gas Processors

BioNGL and RIN Credits for Natural Gas Processors

Previously, I described three opportunities for generating BioPropane from BioGas  and Natural Gas.  Each opportunity has the potential to generate RIN credits.  Currently, Natural Gas Processors earn additional income by separating natural gas liquids (NGL) including ethane, propane, butane, and natural gasoline.  Natural gasoline is predominantly pentane with some longer chain alkanes, too.  Ethane is not an alternative or renewable transportation fuel. The ability to convert NGL into longer-chain alkanes that garner a higher Spot price and valuable D6 RIN credits should interest Natural Gas Processors.  In this blog post, I describe how a battery of bioreactors that use novel autotrophic microbes for BioEthane, BioPropane, BioButane, and BioPentane Production for Natural Gas Processors could be used for optimizing BioNGL production for RIN credit and Spot Price.

Novel Alkanogens for BioNGL

Natural Gas Processor Opportunities

Natural Gas Processors could generate BioNGL from an expanded, four bioreactor configuration, which could generate alkanes from C2-C5.

BioNGL using Hydrogen, Carbon Dioxide, NGL, and Unprocessed Natural Gas

Four bioreactors system could be used by natural gas processors to generate BioNGL using carbon dioxide and hydrogen, purchased or generated on-site.  A 1 to 4 step process converts raw natural gas, NGL, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen into BioNGL.  Processing of the bioreactor headspace recovers BioNGL for injection into the unprocessed natural gas line for downstream separation.  Optimization of the BioNGL blend for maximum profitability is possible through the control of CO2 and H2 injection into the individual bioreactor.

The CO2 emission factor for the different BioNGL was used for calculating the percent reduction in CO2, which is necessary for classifying the RIN type.  I used the GREET model to estimate the CO2 reduction in the new pathway for generating BioNGL from Unprocessed Natural Gas.  I assumed that hydrogen would be generated by electrolysis using solar or windmill power.  Although other sources of hydrogen may be interesting, too.

Unseparated Hydrogen and CO2

Of note, Blue, Grey, and Black or Brown Hydrogen generate CO2 in addition to hydrogen.  Left together, this BioNGL source gas could be provided at a lower cost.  Blue hydrogen production generates 4 moles H2 for every mole of CO2, which would require additional captured CO2 for BioNGL production.  Recall that each step of BioNGL production uses 3 moles H2 for each mole of CO2.  On-site Blue Hydrogen production by a Natural Gas Processor could eliminate the CO2 emissions from transport.

BioNGL Hydrogen Processes and CO2 Sources
BioNGL Hydrogen Processes and CO2 Sources

Captured CO2 at or near the Natural Gas Processor have very low CO2 emissions.  Carbon dioxide used in the bioreactor system offset CO2 emissions for a net reduction of more than 20%, which qualifies for D6 RIN credit.  The generation of RIN credit for BioNGL requires a petition to U.S. EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program.

Revenue Comparison for BioNGL Using Unprocessed Dry and Wet Natural Gas

The table below provides the revenue potential of BioNGL for dry and wet natural gas. I used 100,000 moles of alkanes in all scenarios.  A maximum of 20,000 moles of BioNGL was allowed.  Microsoft Excel Solver was used to identify the optimal BioNGL Value for both scenarios. Dry Gas assumed 100% Methane, while Wet Gas assumed 85% Methane, 10% Ethane, 4% Propane, and 1% Butane.

Both scenarios suggest high revenues when compared to the value of the raw natural gas.  I used Spot Prices ($/MMBtu) of $2.10, $3.00, $6.50,  $7.02, and $12.48  for Natural Gas, Ethane, Propane, Butane, and Pentane, respectively.  I used the same costs for hydrogen ($1.80/kg) and carbon dioxide ($0.10/kg) used for biogas conversion to BioPropane.  BioNGL incorporates this CO2 making it renewable.  I added costs of $0.10 per gallon of BioNGL for bioreactor generation and recovery for a total of $0.20/gallon.  Calculations used D6 RIN credit values from December 2022 of $1.64 and only apply to BioNGL that can be used as a transportation fuel (i.e., BioPropane, BioButane, and BioPentane).

For Dry Gas, Excel Solver identifies the optimal mix of BioNGL for Extra BioNGL Value is 20% BioPentane from methane conversion.  For Wet Gas, a mix of BioNGL includes BioButane and BioPentane.

BioNGL and D6 RIN Revenue for Dry and Wet Gas
BioNGL and D6 RIN Revenue for Dry and Wet Gas

Both opportunities have large revenues due to D6 RIN credits and extra BiogNGL value.  For CO2 reduction, the shorter alkanes and more CO2 integrated into the alkane increased the percentage.  The greater the CO2 reduction percentage, the greater range for truck transport of hydrogen and CO2.

BioNGL Needs a Downstream Customer

For BioNGL to be viable, the Natural Gas Processor will need a downstream customer interested in purchasing BioNGL as a transportation fuel.

BioNGL Bridges the Gap Between Natural Gas and Crude Oil

Natural Gas Processors collect NGL from wet gas.  The price of crude oil, where oil processors generate NGL in much greater volumes, determines profitability.  With BioNGL, Natural Gas Processors have an opportunity to generate greater amounts of NGL from the incorporation of both hydrogen and CO2.  Lower cost hydrogen and CO2 will be necessary for BioNGL to be profitable without D6 RIN credits.

Commercialization Pathway for BioNGL

If there’s interest in this approach to generating BioNGL, then follow the four step plan for commercialization.

Isolate and Characterize Novel Alkanogens

This BioNGL commercialization plan requires four novel alkanogens: Ethanogens, Propanogens, Butanogens, and Pentanogens.  Thermodynamic analysis predicts these alkanogens and other novel autotrophic microbes.  The combination of a proper anaerobic, autotrophic microbiology laboratory and a skilled microbiologist should suffice.  The laboratory will require gas chromatography for gas characterization.  Growth rate information for isolates will be necessary for bioreactor design.  I’m available to assist in this effort.

Demonstrate Bioreactors System for Generating BioNGL

With the alkanogens properly characterized, design a simple bioreactor system for a simple demonstration using unprocessed natural gas and NGLs.  A successful demonstration provides a good estimate of the potential profitability of the bioreactor system.

Petition US EPA for Advanced BioFuel Pathway

In order to qualify for the valuable RIN credits, the US EPA requires a petition describing the novel approach for generating a biofuel.

Secure License for Patents

License the patents for the BioNGL bioreactor system from the University of South Florida (USF).  Send me an email for USF contact information.

More Information Available

I provided a video that describes multiple business opportunities that could impact Agriculture, Environmental Remediation, Water and Wastewater Treatment, Metals Recovery, BioEnergy, and Health markets.  In the future, I’ll provide new blog posts that describe opportunities for generating BioButanol and novel autotrophic probiotics for ruminants that reduce methane emissions.

Send Me Your Questions About BioNGL Production

Send me your questions about generating BioNGL to pete@glixin.com.

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