Gevo teams up with National Labs to improve ethanol-to-olefins catalyst


In Colorado, Gevo and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are collaborating to improve Gevo’s ethanol-to-olefins catalyst.

Gevo’s ETO process converts ethanol to tailored mixes of isobutylene, propylene, hydrogen and acetone. It is also capable of converting complex mixtures of other biobased alcohols, acids and other oxygenates to primarily propylene or isobutylene along with “significant levels of renewable hydrogen.” It has only been operated at laboratory scale. If successfully demonstrated at larger volumes, it could provide higher-value uses of ethanol outside of biofuels.

The US Department of Energy’s ChemCatBio consortium awarded funding to support the project.

“We are excited to begin this collaboration with Gevo and believe that the state-of-the-art capabilities and expertise available through the Advanced Catalyst Synthesis and Characterization (ACSC) project within the ChemCatBio Consortium will enable us to gain a fundamental understanding of critical catalyst features that can change over time and impact the performance of Gevo’s ETO catalysts. We’ll use a combination of high energy X-ray characterization techniques at ANL, subatomic-resolution microscopy at ORNL, and highly sensitive vibrational spectroscopies at NREL to deliver insight into the atomic-level structure of these catalysts under reaction relevant conditions. Armed with a detailed knowledge of the “working” catalyst structure we can design and synthesize catalyst composition that have dramatically improved stability and lifetime in Gevo’s ETO process,” says Dr. Susan Habas, a Principal Investigator in the ChemCatBio Consortium.