Vertimass Selected for Negotiation of an Award to Receive Up to $2 Million From U.S. Department of Energy to Convert Ethanol Into Jet, Diesel, and Gasoline Blend Stocks

"Green" Catalyst Technology for Commercial Production of Blend Stocks Compatible With Current Transportation Fuel Infrastructure

IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 4, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Vertimass LLC announced today the company has been selected for negotiation of an award to receive up to $2 million from the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The cooperative agreement would aid Vertimass in its mission to commercialize "green" catalyst technology that converts ethanol into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel blend stocks that are compatible with the current transportation fuel infrastructure.

With an exclusive worldwide license from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the innovative developer of this patented catalyst technology, Vertimass seeks to expand the ethanol market for blending with gasoline, while creating new outlets for ethanol in the diesel and jet fuel markets. The blend stocks produced by this catalyst are anticipated to fall under the Renewable Fuel Standard at the same level as the ethanol used to make it.

Benefits of the catalytic process include: single step conversion of ethanol into a hydrocarbon blend stocks without the addition of hydrogen; the ability to process between 5 percent and 100 percent ethanol concentrations; production of minimal amounts of light gases; operation at relatively low temperature and atmospheric pressure; and the ability to shift product distribution in response to changing market demands. This technology can also convert a range of other alcohol feedstocks such as methanol, propanol, and butanol into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel blend stocks as well as benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) that have valuable chemical markets.

"This green catalyst technology can be rapidly incorporated into an existing ethanol plant with low additional capital and operating costs while providing fuel flexibility and essentially replacing dehydration operations," said Charles Wyman, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Vertimass. "With the ability to add the catalyst to existing plants at a rapid pace and low cost, the new product will help meet the goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard and also aid the Federal Aviation Administration achieve their target of 1 billion gallons of renewable aviation fuel by 2018."

The technology is expected to allow expansion of the liquid biofuels market beyond current constraints. Existing U.S. ethanol production plants currently have a capacity of approximately 14 billion gallons per year, a level that saturates current use as 10% blends with gasoline. However, the new Vertimass catalyst breaks that barrier by producing a hydrocarbon blend stock compatible in higher-level blends. In addition, while ethanol has been traditionally considered too low in energy density for use as a jet fuel, the Vertimass/ORNL catalyst can overcome that issue. This new fuel could also be used to power heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles for which ethanol is not ideally suited. Thus, the technology would expand opportunities to use more ethanol from corn in the U.S., cane sugar in Brazil, and cellulosic biomass worldwide. Initial tests indicate the Vertimass fuels (Vertifuels) are compatible for blending with gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels with no engine modifications, but further tests are underway for ASTM certification.

"The majority of ethanol in the U.S. is used as 10 percent blends with gasoline, and current U.S. ethanol production has virtually saturated that market as a result of what many refer to as a 'blend wall,'" said William Shopoff, Vertimass chairman. "One of our goals is to overcome this blend wall challenge. We truly believe in the need for sustainable transportation fuels and are extremely pleased to receive this funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. This award would also provide a level of validation of our technology that will facilitate completing our initial fund raising. It will also help achieve our goals to open up vast new markets for ethanol in aircraft and heavy-duty vehicles."

About Vertimass LLC

Based in Irvine, Calif., the mission of Vertimass LLC is to develop and widely license breakthrough technologies that substantially expand the use of sustainable transportation fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security and domestic economies. The company seeks to improve and demonstrate these novel technologies to provide commercially viable performance and license them to rapidly realize their important societal benefits.



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