FAQ

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Is your steam reforming process a type of gasification process?

Yes, our ‘Steam/CO2 Reforming’ process is a subset of the broader class of gasification processes. In our case, we do not use oxygen or air in the process, which is common in gasification processes. Our process is a reductive chemical reaction wherein oxygen is actively excluded from the process and steam included. This avoids hotspots, tar and slag buildup common to gasification processes. Lastly, there are no catalysts used in the front-end of our systems

What can you process?

We can process a wide range of waste, from municipal solid waste to industrial waste, raw sewage, medical waste, creosote contaminated wood, animal waste and carcasses, bio-waste, such as wood chips or agricultural waste – the list goes on (see table below). We can also process natural gas and theoretically coal. Regarding metals, we cannot process these into fuel, however, metal will drop out of the steam reformer, and be sterilized and disposed of or recycled. A high metals content impacts the use or disposal of our biocarbon (15% of process weight,) therefore, any removal prior to ‘Steam/CO2‘ reformation protects that aggregate which can then be sold as a valuable carbon source.

Variety of feedstocks:

-Biomass from fields

-Household garbage

-Paint and solvent waste

-Military classified waste

-Kevlar waste

-Pharmaceutical waste

-Biotoxic organisms

-NASA astronaut harvest

-Renew activated carbon

-Wood and scrap waste

-Electronic waste

-Cleaning chelate solvent

-Silicon water cleaners

-Decon creosote soil

-Used sheep dip

-Radioactive contaminated waste

Why are synthetic fuels better for the environment?

Natural gas reforming is an advanced and mature production process that builds upon the existing natural gas pipeline delivery infrastructure. Today, 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United States is made by natural gas reforming in large central plants. This is an important technology pathway for near-term hydrogen production.

How is this different from bio-fuel technology?

Biofuel projects typically rely upon specifically grown crops or specific agri-based feedstocks. The Raven SR™ technology is different in that a) it can utilize a wide range of feedstocks, b) it can use waste, including plastics and medical waste, for which a tipping fee may be obtained, c) the system can produce either 99.9999% pure hydrogen, or synthetic Fischer-Tropsch fuels, which are cleaner than petroleum or bio-based fuels.

How is this different from, or better than, pyrolysis?

By strict chemistry definition, pyrolysis is thermal decomposition, ‘Steam/CO2‘ differs from typical pyrolysis by the exclusion of oxygen (thus combustion) and operates in a reductive atmosphere. Plastics pyrolysis is a process of converting specific plastics back into petroleum products. Pyrolysis can use only specific plastics, and the quality of the fuel produced is vastly inferior to FT fuels, and it cannot produce renewable hydrogen.

If this is so great and has been around for so long, why hasn’t it taken off before now?

Intellergy, Inc., where the technology was developed, was created with a focus primarily on waste elimination, rather than monetization through the creation of fuels. The company sold numerous systems to nuclear power plants and operated a toxic waste elimination facility for the pharmaceutical industry for some time. Typically, these units were sold or spun off. In the mid-2000s, the company entered into a commercially disadvantageous agreement, which stifled growth and prevented development for several years. In 2015, the owners of Raven SR™ began funding development again, and in 2018, Raven SR™ acquired the patents of Intellergy.

If this process is such a good idea, then why didn’t someone think of it before?

Steam reforming dates back at least 120 years. It was explored long ago for coal, and later for oil conversion, to produce a gas intended for illumination. The syngas produced at that time contained organic contaminants and had limited commercial applications. With today’s high-temperature alloys and high-tech ceramics, this chemistry was re-examined by Raven SR™ and new patents were issued which demonstrates how to carry out steam reforming at high temperature and with the proper amount of steam and CO2 to produce a clean, rich syngas.

Are catalyst licenses needed for hydrogen production (the water gas shift reaction) or and for the Fischer-Tropsch syn-fuel process variants?

No.

Are any harmful gases or by-products released in the process?

There will be small amounts of CO2 released, as is inevitable in any process, but we recycle most of the CO2. Air emissions are 2.5 times less than the best available technology, and the process itself has passed California emissions standards.

How big are the units?

The units are modular and skid mounted, and depending upon the amount of waste being processed can be sized from typical 40-foot containers to 2-3,000 square-meters with additional space for truck turnaround dropping off waste and loading fuel.

Is feedstock prep necessary?

To a degree, yes. We can process nearly any feedstock as seen above, but certain feedstocks pollute the bio-carbon residual that drops out during the first stage of our rotary reformer. Aluminum cans, for instance, can go in, but we do not necessarily want aluminum mixed in what should be a pure bio-carbon aggregate. Therefore, a pre-sort removing high-value waste (e.g. aluminum, iron, etc.) and dropping out concrete and rocks will allow for a purer bio-carbon at the end of stage one. Our rotary reformer consists of a commercial “calciner” that is hot, free of oxygen and involves a slanted and rotating tube capable of handling large size pieces (up to 2 inches). As the waste moves from shredder to the rotary reformer, all free oxygen is removed through a CO2 bath inerting the waste so that no incineration or combustion takes place.

To what extent is segregation of incoming waste feedstock necessary? What about water content and other impurities?

Generally, sorting and shredding of MSW/medical is used to remove high-value recyclable materials (i.e. glass, aluminum, etc.) and we assume a working relationship with a waste-management system, such that these costs are carried by them.

Unlike gasification, the high moisture content (50%) is an advantage for us and is near where most MSW is in a natural state. Our process is steam reformation, therefore we would not need to dry the feedstock, and in some cases would add moisture if our feedstock is less than 50%. The gasification processes, on the other hand, requires moisture levels typically to be under 10% which means they must dry feedstocks prior to combustion at a significant financial cost.

Inorganics salts have no effect, but HCl at high levels could, with PVC plastics, etc. The syngas would then be cleaned to ppm levels of sulfur to extend the FT catalyst life.

A high metals content impacts the use or disposal of our biocarbon (15% of processed weight), therefore any removal prior to “Steam/CO2” reformation protects that aggregate which can then be sold as a valuable carbon source.

Describe the difference between “gasification” and “Steam/CO2 Reforming.”

This is a key difference between the Raven SR™ process and other processes – Gasification uses combustion, while Steam CO2 reforming does not. Gasification is very different chemically and thermodynamically from “Steam/CO2” Reforming. While both processes require heat to drive the endothermic chemistry, the source of that heat is significantly different with considerably different results.

Combustion is defined as “any process in which a substance combines with oxygen to produce heat and light.” [Oxford Dictionary of Chemistry] or “Burning (rapid oxidation) of fuel, which releases energy in the form of heat and light, and also releases pollutants (such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates).” [Oxford Reference: A Dictionary of Environment and Conservation]

How is this process different from other competing or similar technologies and projects, some of which have failed?

The Raven SR™ process is fundamentally different in that it is a chemical, rather than a combustion process. The fact that the Raven SR™technology is non-combustion increases efficiency, allows for a wider range of feedstock, and eliminates many of the problems faced by gasification and Fisher-Tropsch (FT) projects in the past, as discussed in the following questions.

Raven SR™ is similar to companies that also focus on a gasification process to create a syngas. However, Raven SR’s patented steam CO2 reformation process creates a syngas that is up to twice as rich in hydrogen as competing technologies, enabling the production of higher quantities of renewable hydrogen or FT fuels without the maintenance and other issues caused by combustion.

Raven SR™ is currently focused on hydrogen production from waste. The technology’s ability to produce hydrogen from various waste streams is well established and documented, and the pilot unit is continually producing hydrogen at this time. The market for renewable hydrogen in California is growing, and Raven SR™ can produce renewable hydrogen at a lower price than any competitor in the market.

With respect to the Fisher-Tropsch, Raven SR™ is currently filing new patents on modifications to the traditional FT process, increasing efficiency.

Is the gas produced in the reformer combustible?

Natural gas reforming is an advanced and mature production process that builds upon the existing natural gas pipeline delivery infrastructure. Today, 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United States is made by natural gas reforming in large central plants. This is an important technology pathway for near-term hydrogen production.

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