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Revolutionizing Renewable Energy: The SAFFiRE Method

How the SAFFiRE process works

Processing corn stover: The corn stover used in the SAFFiRE process is a valuable resource that is largely left to decompose in the fields after the corn harvest each year. SAFFiRE plans for corn stover to be collected by custom harvesters or by local farmers and processed through a proprietary Deacetylation and Mechanical Refining (DMR) technology developed by National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) called “DMR pretreatment."

Produce renewable ethanol: Once the corn stover has been pretreated, we plan to use existing technology that has been proven at the pilot scale in batch mode to hydrolyze, ferment, and separate it into renewable ethanol with a projected Carbon Intensity (CI) of zero.

Upgrade the ethanol to sustainable aviation fuel: Alcohol-to-jet technology is planned to be utilized to upgrade the ethanol into fully certified sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that will be used by the airline industry.

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From Field to Flight: SAFFiRE intends to transform corn stover into an abundant low carbon feedstock for SAF. Our unique journey is planned to start with harvesting an abundant agricultural by-product for use with our pretreatment technology, setting the stage for innovation​

Our process is backed by an exclusive license to NREL's innovative DMR pretreatment—proven at pilot scale in batch mode, utilizing standard industry equipment, ensuring high sugar yields, low enzyme requirements, and avoiding the pitfalls of previous methods. Our approach is designed to operate under mild conditions, avoiding the high costs and operational challenges of other pretreatments, while preserving valuable lignin for further use.

  • Exclusive and Efficient: SAFFiRE holds exclusive rights to this advanced technology, focusing on the critical pretreatment step to convert biomass to ethanol. Our method is intended to reduce cost, increase ethanol yields, and decrease Carbon Intensity, steering clear of the limitations faced by dilute acid and high-pressure alternatives.

 

By prioritizing low temperatures, atmospheric pressure, and an alkaline environment, SAFFiRE’s process is designed not only to reduce operational challenges but also open doors to innovative uses of lignin, while also enhancing overall process efficiency and sustainability.

  • DMR operates at low temperatures (<100°C) and atmospheric pressure, which at the pilot scale in batch mode have been shown to reduce capex and eliminate biomass feeding issues such as plugging and severe erosion of biomass feeding equipment.

  • DMR is an alkaline pretreatment (high pH) that, at the pilot scale in batch mode, has been shown to eliminate corrosion issues associated with dilute acid pretreatment; DMR pretreatment has also been shown at the pilot scale in batch mode not to require expensive metal alloys.

  • DMR’s low temperatures have been shown at the pilot scale in batch mode not to produce fermentation inhibitors such as furfural and hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF).

  • The SAFFiRE process is designed to remove acetic acid, ash, and lignin during deacetylation, which has been shown at the pilot scale in batch mode to improve enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation performance.

  • DMR’s low temperatures and deacetylation have been shown at the pilot scale in batch mode to preserve valuable lignin properties, potentially making the sequestration of lignin achievable by incorporation into construction material, asphalt, adhesives and other materials possible.

  • DMR has been shown at the pilot scale in batch mode not to create lignin fouling, improving reliability and downstream operations.

This is the heart of SAFFiRE's mission: striving to deliver sustainable aviation fuel that meets today's needs without compromising tomorrow's possibilities.

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