Red Rock Biofuels Facility Breaks Ground In Oregon

Remember in the iconic “Back To The Future” films when Doc Brown placed garbage in the time machine’s engine to fuel it? From science-fiction to science-fact, a similar process will soon become reality fueling aircraft nationwide once the Red Rock Biofuels renewable energy plant is built. On Wednesday, members of Red Rock Biofuels, political dignitaries, […]

Remember in the iconic “Back To The Future” films when Doc Brown placed garbage in the time machine’s engine to fuel it? From science-fiction to science-fact, a similar process will soon become reality fueling aircraft nationwide once the Red Rock Biofuels renewable energy plant is built.

On Wednesday, members of Red Rock Biofuels, political dignitaries, corporate representatives and a large community contingent gathered on the outskirts of Lakeview for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $320 million renewable fuels facility. Taking woody biomass waste products such as pine needles, agriculture waste, sawdust and slash piles from forest thinning projects, the facility will convert materials that might otherwise fuel raging wildfires into jet fuel — around 15 million gallons worth each year.

The facility is an economic and environmental game-changer, according to the project’s developers, and a grand collaborative experiment combining military, commercial and bipartisan political efforts to bring it to fruition. No facility like it exists anywhere in the world, but if successful, preliminary plans are already in the works to develop more in the United States and possibly Australia to create a more sustainable, clean renewable fuel source for the military and civilian aviation industries. Funded through bond sales, grants and a military contract, the project has been seven years in the making to reach Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

Surprisingly, the technology is not new. The facility utilizes the Fischer-Tropsch method, a scientific process developed by Germany during World War II to create fuel. Red Rock will intake woody biomass products and heat them to approximately 1,800 degrees in an oxygen-free high-pressure environment, which converts it to a gas. The liquid hydrocarbons produced are then refined into jet fuel, diesel fuel and naptha fuels.

Similar gasification facilities are already in operation in South Africa and Qatar, but none to date utilize woody biomass for its raw materials, making Lakeview’s new facility the first of its kind anywhere. Many who have worked on the Red Rock project see it as a blueprint to be replicated across the western United States as the future of renewable fuels, while simultaneously keeping forests healthy and more resistant to catastrophic wildfires by reducing fire fuel sources.

Read more on this from the Herald and News at https://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/fueled-for-the-future/article_b824da9c-49ad-5094-acac-21e71828b49d.html?utm_source=Forest+Business+Network+email+newsletter&utm_campaign=a16a8824c5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_07_25&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3a629cb392-a16a8824c5-111950185.

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