Carbon Negative Diesel, Jet And Marine Fuels & Renewable Chemicals

Mercurius Biorefining is scaling up the technology to produce carbon negative drop in fuels and polymers using its patented REACH™ process. REACH™ uses a liquid phase catalytic approach to produce fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic feedstocks, such as agricultural and forestry residuals (stover, bagasse, rice or wheat straw, wood chips or sawdust) or lignocellulosic fractions of Municipal Solid Waste.
If you look at Figure 1 to the right, Mercurius Biorefining would be the Bioenergy Industry with its biorefinery using REACH™ to transform biomass into negative carbon biofuels and polymer precursors. Mercurius uses a robust catalyst to breakdown the cellulose and hemicellulose in the biomass into functional molecular intermediates that can then be formed into fuels, polymers, or nutraceuticals. The lignin in the biomass is converted to a bio-char that can be amended into soil for carbon sequestration. The bio crude produced is converted into drop-in hydrocarbons.
Figure 1 showing the utilizing carbon negative processesFigure 1 showing the utilizing carbon negative processes
REACH™ technology offers a straightforward pathway to produce carbon negative fuels and chemicals. Using bagasse as an example feedstock Mercurius has a resource that has no additional LCA load as it is already harvested and transported to a sugar refinery and has been partially processed by the refinery for its sugar content.

​​​​​​​The co-located Mercurius Biorefinery would then use its REACH™ process to catalyze the bagasse into a highly flexible intermediate molecule using a low temperature and pressure technique that necessitates a low level of energy input to create it. The REACH™ process creates a bio-char from the lignin (about 45% of the biomass by weight) that can be returned to the land sequestering significant amounts of carbon. If the end product is a plastic or nutraceutical precursor then the carbon negative effect of the REACH™ process is substantial.
If the end product is a drop in hydrocarbon then the amount of carbon negativity will be directly related to the use of hydrogen in the process. With a fossil derived hydrogen input the carbon negativity will be less significant but still measurable. If hydrogen is obtained from a renewable source like methane from landfills or wastewater treatment plants then the carbon negativity is increased. Better yet, if hydrogen is created from electrolysis using renewable electricity from wind or solar generation then the carbon negativity is very significant.

Renewable Fuels

Diesel Fuel

Diesel is the main driver for long distance freight hauling, mining operations and industrial generators. Given the range required, electrification of freight transportation is considered not feasible in the near term and the only way to decarbonize this sector is by replacing petroleum diesel with diesel from renewable feedstocks.

​​​​​​​REACH™ produces hydrocarbons conforming to the diesel fuel range which can be used as a carbon negative drop-in replacement or blend. Unlike diesel produced from petroleum, REACH™ diesel products contain no aromatics and are sulfur free. Additionally, diesel produced by REACH™ has a significantly higher cetane number than petroleum diesel. Higher cetane results in a cleaner burning fuel in a diesel engine, and significant reductions in particulate matter (pm) emissions.
Line of excavators and other machinery that use diesel fuelLine of excavators and other machinery that use diesel fuel

Jet Fuel

Jet airplane flying through the airJet airplane flying through the air
Aviation emissions are a significant portion of global CO2 emissions, with demand for air travel continuing to increase and the percentage of global emissions from aviation projected to rise. With no technology for electrification of air travel available for the foreseeable future, decarbonization of air travel and continued operation of today’s existing aircraft will require renewable jet fuel.

​​​​​​​REACH™ can produce jet fuel hydrocarbons, which can be used as carbon negative drop-in blend component in today’s existing aircraft fleet, with analysis of samples from bench scale production showing promising results for ASTM certification. Unlike jet fuel produced from petroleum, which contains toxic aromatics such as benzene, jet fuel blending components produced by REACH™ contain no aromatics and will instead contain cycloalkanes. This will result in a cleaner burning fuel and improved air quality in population centers near airfields.

Marine Fuel

REACH™ produces a sulfur free drop-in fuel in both the diesel and heavy fuel oil range, suitable for most marine propulsion systems. Unlike other methods for decarbonizing marine transport, marine fuel from REACH™ can be used in the engines of existing ships and does not require any modifications. It also fits within the existing fuel storage and pipeline infrastructure.

Sulfur free marine fuel from REACH™ can provide fleet owners and operators with a cost effective option to meet the 0.5% sulfur content limits introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) through its IMO 2020 regulation. Current compliance options for fleet owners and operators include installation and/or modification of scrubbers, purchasing low sulfur fuels or paying penalties. Sulfur free marine fuel can be used for blending to lower sulfur content within compliance limits, offering a simple, cost effective compliance option.
Cargo ship in the middle of the oceanCargo ship in the middle of the ocean

Renewable Chemicals

In addition to drop-in fuels, REACH™ Technology produces several high value renewable chemical products including Furandicarboxylic Acid (FDCA), Formic Acid, Levulinic Acid, Furfual and Biochar.


FDCA is a key component of several chemicals and plastics, including as a monomer for polyethylene furanoate (PEF). PEF has many advantages over the widely used polyethylene terephthalate (PET) produced primarily from petroleum, including it is a superior barrier against gases, is mechanically stronger and has better thermal stability.
PEF derived from biomass is also 100% renewable and carbon negative by sequestering CO2 that was removed from the atmosphere by the biomass used for its production. Given its chemical similarity with PET, PEF can also be blended with PET during the recycling process. It can also be processed in the same way as PET, allowing bottle manufacturers to use their existing equipment when switching production from PET to PEF.

Formic Acid

Formic Acid can be used as an environmentally friendly de-icing agent, a food safe preservative/antibacterial in animal feed and as a finishing agent for leather production.
In addition to well established chemical uses, formic acid could also serve as a carrier for renewable hydrogen. Both the H2 and CO2 contained in the formic acid byproduct would come from a renewable biomass source and would therefore be considered renewable. Formic acid can be stored and transported as a liquid at atmospheric pressure, making it a safer and cheaper option for transport of hydrogen than compressed hydrogen or liquid hydrogen.
A simple well known reforming reaction can separate H2 and CO2 upon arrival at a usage site. The renewable H2 could then be available for transport-based fuel cell or other suitable uses. The renewable CO2 could also be available for uses, such as greenhouse enrichment for food production.

Levulinic Acid & Furfural

Levulinic acid and Furfural can serve as the building blocks for many materials and chemicals produced from biomass, including solvents, polymers, plasticizers, resins & coatings, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and fragrances.

Biochar By-product

The lignin content of the biomass feedstock is converted to a biochar. This biochar has significant potential for use as a soil enhancement that improves water absorbtion, retention and nutrient absorbtion as well as providing carbon sequestration.