Next Opportunities For Bio-Fuels

As technology and cost of production improves in the production of Bio-fuels and price of hydrocarbons increase, Bio-fuels will be further refined, to replace petroleum in plastic, specialty chemicals and other organic compounds.

 Only a fraction of commercial production of organic compounds comes from renewable microbial processes. With the exception of Ethanol, there are few specialty chemicals currently using microbial fermentation.

Some of the specialty chemicals, whose production can be implemented in second-generation Bio-fuel plants, are: 

  1. Acetic Acid
  2. Gluconic Acid
  3. n-Propanol
  4. Acetone
  5. Isopropyl Alcohol
  6. Propionic Acid
  7. 2,3 Butaneidol
  8. Itaconic Acid
  9. Pyruvic Acid
  10. n-Butanol
  11. Linoleic Acid
  12. Sorbitol
  13. Butyraldehyde
  14. Linolenic Acid
  15. Stearic Acid
  16. Butyric Acid
  17. Oleic Acid
  18. Succinic Acid
  19. Citric Acid
  20. Palmitic Acid
  21. Lactic Acid
  22. C12-C20 Fatty Acids
  23. Propaneidol
  24. Aliphatic Acids

 Although the potential production of these compounds is available from bio-fuels, virtually all commodities organic chemicals are currently produced from petroleum. Production costs, up to now, are generally much lower when processing these products out of hydrocarbons.

Among the reasons why production of specialty hydrocarbon chemicals and chemical commodities will ultimately switch production to renewable bio-fuels, we list the following:

1.      New developments, economics and technology in fractionizing lignocellulose into simple fermentable sugars.

2.      Exhaustion of non-renewable hydrocarbons. (60 to 80 years?)

3.      Environmental concerns.

4.      Tax Incentives for renewable bio-fuels.

 The technology to convert ethanol into ethylene (precursor of polyethylene) is not new, but it needs production scale and low cost of energy to make it a commercially viable product.

 Synthetic rubbers, plastics, synthetic fibers and thousands of other synthetic products can be manufactured from renewable bio-fuel rather than non-renewable petroleum products.

Benchmark’s second generation plants will have provisions to incorporate more “refined” specialty chemical products from bio-fuel as the cost of production and price become attractive.

For additional information, please contact the company.




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Use of Ethanol Steadily Growing

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) has released its January new short-term energy outlook for 2018 and 2019.

The United States used 940,000 barrels per day of Ethanol in 2017. However, consumption is expected to increase to 960,000 barrels per day in 2018, and 970,000 barrels per day in 2019.

The EIA said that results in the ethanol share of the total gasoline consumed in 2017, is an average of 10.3 %. Use of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 are projected to continue to grow.

Bio-diesel use also continues to grow from 105,000 barrels per day to 128,000 barrels per day forecasted for 2019.

For additional information, please contact the company.

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Sweet Sorghum Confirmed as a Superior Feedstock

On December 13, the University of Florida (“UF”) and their Institute for Food and Agricultural Science (“IFAS”) published a new study about Sweet Sorghum for the production of biofuel.

UF found that three (3) new IFAS developed varieties of Sorghum  can produce up to 1,000 gallons of Ethanol per acre.

According to Dr. Eulogio Castro , lead author on the Study and Dr. Wilfred Vermerris, co-author, there is substantial renewable fuel potential for Sweet Sorghum partly because it’s so abundant.

Sorghum is the fifth largest cereal crop in the world and the third largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2014, the U.S. was the largest producer of sorghum in the world. UF/IFAS scientists like sorghum because it can be cultivated twice a year in Florida, requires little fertilizer, uses water efficiently and can be drought resistant, UF/IFAS research shows.

The new study is published in the journal Industrial Crops & Products.

For additional information, please contact the Company.


David Walker Jr. with mature Sweet Sorghum from The University of Florida

David Walker Jr. with mature Sweet Sorghum from The University of Florida

EPA Announces Renewable Fuel Standard ("RFS") for 2018

On November 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced the final quotas for how much refiners must blend gasoline and diesel under the RFS.

For 2018 the quotas are:

CELLULOSIC BIOFUELS = 288 million gallons

BIO-MASS BASED DIESEL= 2.1 billion gallons

ADVANCED BIOFUEL= 4.29 billion gallons

RENEWABLE FUEL= 19.29 billion gallons

The RFS program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. EPA implements the program in consultation with U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy. The RFS program is a national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel. 

For more information on the announcement, go to:

Is Your Car Flex Fuel ?

More than 22 million automobiles on U.S. roadways today are flex fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can run on fuel blends containing up to 85 percent ethanol (E85). Is your vehicle one of them?

 Finding out is easy, thanks to a new brochure released November 7 by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The brochure compiles all of the FFV models available in the current model year (MY2018), as well as previous years going back as far as MY1998.

All of the data used in the brochure was collected directly from the automakers.

E15 an E85 fuel blends continue to grow in the US market.

There are more than 4,000 retail stations throughout the U.S. that offer E85 or other ethanol flex fuel blends, and that number grows each week.

For more information, please contact the company.



US Bio-Fuel Production and Higher Blends

According to the Renewable Fuel Association, as of May 2017 there were 213 ethanol plants in the US capable of producing 15.8 Billion Gallons of Ethanol per year.

72% of the production capacity is concentrated in six states in the Midwest while, the majority of the blended gasoline  is consumed  in the Northeast, California, Texas and Florida.

The Renewable Fuel Standard II has been set at 15 billion gallons in 2017. 1.04 Billion Gallons of ethanol were exported in 2016.


As of May 2017, E15 is been offered in over 800 gas stations across 29 states. Major retailers continue converting pumps to E15, offering a higher octane fuel at a lower price than E10.

To gain perspective, blending an average of 11% ethanol would result in an annual demand of 15.8* billion gallons, exhausting annual production capacity in the US.


*Based on 143.3 billion gallons of gasoline annual consumption.

For additional information, please contact the company.



The company is encouraged by the positive outlook for the production and distribution of renewable advanced bio-fuels.  The domestic production of ethanol has played a key role in decreasing dependence on foreign oil. 

 In the United States, Federal   Law required the use of oxygenates in reformulated gasoline to reduce vehicle emissions in cities with unhealthy levels of air pollution. These oxygenates included MTBE in the past. However, the use of MTBE is no longer permitted, making ethanol the primary clean air oxygenates used. 

 Ethanol has an octane value of 113 and is the primary additive used by refiners to increase octane levels, producing regular grade gasoline from lower octane blend stocks and upgrading regular gasoline to premium grades, to improve engine performance. Refiners are producing more conventional blend stocks for oxygenate blending, or CBOB, which is an 84 octane sub-grade gasoline that requires ethanol or another octane source to meet the minimum octane requirements for the U.S. gasoline market. CBOB represented approximately 80% of total conventional gasoline sold in 2015.  

 Ethanol is a valuable blend component used by U.S. refiners to extend fuel supply. According to the EIA, ethanol comprised approximately 9.9% of the domestic gasoline supply, replacing nearly 750 million barrels of crude oil in 2016.  

 In October 2010, the EPA granted a waiver that permitted the use of E15 in model year 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, including cars, sport utility vehicles and light pickup trucks. In June 2012, the EPA approved the sale and use of E15 and in July 2012, the nation’s first retail E15 was sold. On January 2017, there were 627 retail fuel stations in 28 states offering E15 to consumers.

  Our  federal government mandates the use of renewable fuels under RFS II, which has been a driving factor in the growth of domestic ethanol usage. The EPA assigns individual refiners, blenders and importers the volume of renewable fuels they are obligated to use based on their percentage of total fuel sales. In November 2016, the EPA announced the final 2017 renewable volume obligations for conventional ethanol of 15.0 billion gallons.

Prior to 2010, the United States had a long history as a net importer of ethanol. In 2010, according to the USDA, the United States became the largest exporter of ethanol to world markets and lowest-cost producer, surpassing Brazil. According to the EIA, U.S. ethanol exports, net of imports, were approximately 1.0 billion gallons in 2016 and 730 million gallons in 2015.

Demand for cleaner, more sustainable transportation fuel has made ethanol a crucial component of the global fuel supply as an economical oxygenate and source of octanes.

According to the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, 35 countries, including the EU which is regulated by a single policy with specific national targets for each country, have mandates or planned targets in place for blending ethanol and biodiesel with transportation fuels to reduce harmful emissions.

In January 2017, the USDA released a report providing evidence that greenhouse gas emissions associated with corn based ethanol are 43% lower than gasoline. Numerous factors have led to improvements over the past ten years, including conservation practices by farmers, higher corn yields and advances in production technologies, which are expected to continue and has the potential to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to a 76% as compared with gasoline.

Based on the forecasted market opportunity, the company is deploying new technologies for the production of advanced ethanol bio-fuels utilizing different feed-stocks depending on the location of the processing plant.

benchmark second generation advanced bio-fuel corn to ethanol plant, includes several competitive advantages including:

 -          Lower cost of operation per gallon produced.

-          Low Carbon Footprint (low GHG).

-          Self-production of renewable energy utilizing bio-gas and bio-mass.

-          Cost effective cellulosic pathways that increase yield.

Among the baseline industry parameters that will be implemented in the corn to ethanol new facility are:

  • Expected Yield of Ethanol per Bushel of Corn = >3.0 Gallons
  • Pounds of DDG produced per Bushel of Corn = 17 lbs. per Bushel
  • Pounds of extracted oil per bushel of corn =  1.0   lbs. per Bushel
  • BTU of renewable bio-gas per gallon of Ethanol = <18,000 BTU per Gallon
  • Kwh of renewable electricity per gallon of Ethanol =.05 Kwh per gallon

For additional information, please contact the company.

Copyright July 22, 2017



Several technologies are emerging for the production of ethanol from non-conventional feed stocks that do not have readily available starch and fermentable sugars. This process is now called CELLULOSIC ETHANOL. 

The “new” processes involve the hydrolysis of polysaccharides in cell walls of fiber and woody plant materials. This structural material known as lignocellulose is composed of cellulose fibers embedded in a cross-linked lignin-hemicellulose matrix.

Breaking this component is difficult, because lignocellulose is resistant to both chemical and biological attack. 

A variety of physical, chemical and enzymatic processes have been developed that allow the recovery from the cellulose of 5-carbon sugars and 6-carbon sugars (hexoses) which can be fermented and distilled to produce ethanol. The leftover lignin is not recovered and simply burned as boiler fuel. 

Up to now the industrial processes in commercial operations are not cost competitive. The cost per gallon is 3-4 times higher than conventional corn-ethanol. 

One of the major costly steps corresponds to pre-treatment of the lignocellulose, which accounts for 33% of the total processing cost. The energy use is very high during the pretreatment phase and grows exponentially when reducing particle sizes to apply enzymatic hydrolysis. 

For the Hydrolysis phase there are three basic technologies: 

1.      Concentrated Acid

2.      Dilute Acid

3.      Enzymatic Hydrolysis

Most of the cellulosic commercial plants are using some form of Enzymatic Hydrolysis, but the quantity required and costs of the enzymes is not commercially competitive yet. (Over time there may be reductions in the price of enzymes). 


The design and engineering of the company's 2nd. generation advanced bio-fuel plant includes the utilization of multi-feedstock such as Corn, Grain Sorghum, Sweet Sorghum and others. The advanced design also allows adding more commercially viable cellulosic pathways to increase yields and to qualify more of the production for the advanced bio-fuel RINS. 

Among the unique features that may make the plant to increase the Cellulosic production of ethanol are: 

1.      Production of its own CHP (ENERGY) thru the anaerobic digester and the production of bio-gas

2.      Propriety Super Heat Steam Technology. 

3.      Favorable bio-mass such as corn cobs readily available from local farmers. 

The above factors will allow producing cellulosic ethanol in a cost per gallon similar to conventional dry milling corn ethanol production.  

Benchmark has access to a patented process similar to a process developed in the 1930’s for the production of fiberboard that will be adapted in existing plants in a cost effective way. 

It involves the creation of a Thermal Expansion during the pre-treatment phase. 

The Thermal Expansion involves saturation of the pores of the plant materials with steam followed by a rapid decompression. The explosive expansion of heat reduces the plant material to separated fibers, increasing the accessibility of polysaccharides to subsequent hydrolysis. The steam needs to reach temperatures of 220-270 Centigrade and the resident time varies between 40-90 seconds. 

Corn Cobs have very high hemicellulose content and are particularly easy to digest. Pre-hydrolysis at temperature of 150 Centigrade converts the hemicellulose to xylose after only 5 minutes.  

For the Hydrolysis phase, Benchmark proposed pathway uses Acid Hydrolysis (Sulfuric Acid). The large volume of acid required about equal the weight of sugars produced; therefore, to be cost effective, the sulfuric acid needs to be recovered and recycled. 

The recovery of sulfuric acid has a high boiling point.  Available state of the art instrumentation controls in the  distillation flash  extraction points, allowes for a very precise recovery.

Copyright June 1, 2017

Management Team News

The company is delighted to announce the incorporation of Mr. Sergio Barreira as The Technology and Engineering Integration Director.

 With the upcoming projects that the company is developing, Mr. Barreira's expertise assures the successful implementation of the new processing facilities.

Mr. Barreira was instrumental in building the Brazilian Ethanol Industry.

With more than 40 years of professional experience, he holds an Engineering degree and an MBA from the Universidad de Sao Paulo Brazil. He held positions in Alfa Laval, Codistil SA/ Dedini and NG Metalurgica as Ethanol Engineer, Engineering Manager and Engineering Director. He is currently the  President of Destiltec Consultoria em Procesos Industriais Ltda.

 Mr. Barreira is considered one of the world's foremost authorities in the sugar to ethanol industry. 

For additional information, please contact the company.



New Technology Patent Approved

The company has secured new technology developed by David R Walker that allows for a more efficient utilization of the steam in the distillation columns and improves the production of excess power.

By using less steam for the bio-fuel process, the plant becomes more environmental and energy efficient and allows for more electricity production to be sold back to the utilitity companies.

For additional information, please contact the company.