Bringing the Heat: Gas- and Waste-derived Synfuels

June 28, 2013 | State of the Market Report

First-generation biofuels dominate the alternative fuels market today, but issues like indirect land use exchange and food vs. fuel drive demand for new feedstocks. The glut of cheap natural gas from shale as well as trends toward the use of waste biomass feedstock open up opportunities for new technologies that will alter the alternative fuels landscape. At current oil prices, most thermochemical gas-to-liquid (GTL) and biomass-to-liquid (BTL) technologies will fail; we analyze the cost of 21 conversion pathways to show that gas and waste biomass processes can produce liquid fuels at $80 and $75 per barrel, respectively. A further analysis on return on investment reveals the cost competitive pathways, as well as the impractical.

Coverage Area

  • Owning the Energy Transition

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Landscape
    Increasing crude oil prices and greater price disparities creates opportunities for gas-to-liquids and biomass-to-liquids technologies.
  • Analysis
    Return-on-investment analysis of various routes to liquid fuels reveals winning feedstocks and well positioned technologies; however, most combinations remain uneconomical.
  • Outlook
  • Endnotes