Rentech acquires SilvaGas and investment in ClearFuels

Rentech, Inc. announced that it has completed two investment agreements with biomass gasification technology companies. These agreements represent major steps forward in Rentech’s strategy of offering integrated solutions for the conversion of various types of urban and rural biomass feedstocks into high-value energy products such as renewable synthetic jet fuel, diesel fuel and electric power.

Rentech has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 percent of SilvaGas Corporation and its commercial-scale biomass gasification technology, which converts urban waste feedstocks into synthesis gas (syngas).

Rentech has also executed agreements with ClearFuels Technology Inc., a bio-energy gasification and project development company, whose technology converts rural virgin cellulosic biomass feedstocks into syngas. Rentech has acquired a 25 percent ownership interest in ClearFuels, and has agreed to the installation of a ClearFuels biomass gasifier at the Company’s Product Demonstration Unit (PDU). The agreement with ClearFuels provides for multiple licensing agreements for the Rentech Process at bio-energy facilities under development by ClearFuels.

With the SilvaGas acquisition, Rentech acquires a biomass gasification technology that has operated at commercial scale and is planned for deployment at Rentech’s Rialto Renewable Energy Center under a licensing agreement with SilvaGas. The SilvaGas gasifier can handle urban waste streams that are more varied than the virgin biomass streams that the ClearFuels gasifier has been optimized to convert.

ClearFuels’ technology can convert rural virgin biomass feedstocks into synthesis gas that is cleaner and requires less conditioning, leading to highly efficient conversion into synthetic liquid fuels. Commercial deployment of the ClearFuels technology first requires the construction and operation of a demonstration scale facility, on which Rentech and ClearFuels will collaborate by placing a ClearFuels gasifier at Rentech’s PDU in Colorado.

Integration of these complementary gasification technologies with Rentech’s proprietary syngas conditioning and cleanup technology and the Rentech Process will enable Rentech to offer integrated packages for renewable fuels and power production. These offerings can be tailored to optimize the conversion of a variety of renewable feedstock types into ultra-clean diesel fuel, jet fuel and electric power.

The life-cycle carbon footprint of renewable fuels and power facilities using either gasifier, coupled with the Rentech Fischer-Tropsch Process for synthetic fuels, can be near zero. The renewable synthetic diesel and jet fuels produced at these facilities will meet all applicable fuels standards, be compatible with existing engines and pipelines, and burn cleanly, with emissions of particulates and other regulated pollutants significantly lower than emissions of traditional fuels.

The renewable fuels produced from biomass using Rentech’s technologies will meet the federally-mandated Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS requires minimum annual levels of renewable fuel production in the United States and sets a standard that starts at 9 billion gallons in 2008 and rises to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Of the latter total, 21 billion gallons are required to be obtained from advanced biofuels production.

The renewable power produced using either gasifier is expected to qualify under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program, which requires utilities to increase the amount of electric power they sell from qualified renewable energy resources. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), as of November 2008, 28 states and the District of Columbia had legislatively mandated RPS programs. The EIA estimates that electricity generated from biomass will comprise nearly 30 percent or 243 billion Kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity in 2030.