Press Releases

InnovaTek Inc. and Seattle BioFuels, Inc. announce the first successful production of hydrogen from 100% biodiesel in a microchannel steam reformer


LONG BEACH, CA, USA - Today, InnovaTek Inc. and Seattle BioFuels, Inc. announce the first successful production of hydrogen from 100% biodiesel in a microchannel steam reformer.

InnovaTek’s reforming system was initially developed to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel. This is the first time a renewable fuel source has been used to produce hydrogen in a microchannel steam reformer to power emission-free fuel cells. In addition to biodiesel, InnovaTek has also used its technology to produce hydrogen from glycerol (a by-product of biodiesel production), and the raw soybean oil that is used to manufacture the biodiesel fuel. The use of glycerol as a source for hydrogen has the additional advantage of producing a valuable commodity from a by-product of biodiesel production. This benefit contributes favorably to the economics of biodiesel as a fuel that is competitive with petroleum diesel fuel.

InnovaTek, a leader in sustainable power production, has successfully demonstrated the ability to generate hydrogen from pure biodiesel (B100) produced at the Seattle Biodiesel production facility. Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. The fuel can be burned directly in diesel engines without any modifications to the engine. For cleaner, more efficient electrical power production, biodiesel can be reformed to produce hydrogen for a fuel cell.

One of the advantages of InnovaTek’s technology is the use of micro- or milli-channel geometries for the catalytic reactor and heat exchangers. Microchannel reactors offer some distinct advantages over conventional reactors (tubular or vessel), including inherent safety, compact size, and high conversion rates. The microchannel reformer achieved a 100% conversion rate of the pure biodiesel (B100).

Since hydrogen is a secondary energy carrier, the complete fuel cycle from primary energy source to final application must be considered when judging its environmental relevance. The advantage of H 2 production from biomass is that renewable energy sources can be utilized thereby reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and eliminating pollutant and climate-affecting emissions.

Martin Tobias, Seattle Biofuels’ Chairman and CEO, said, “At Seattle BioFuels we are constantly innovating both the production and use of renewable fuels. Our biorefinery technology is already among the cleanest and most energy efficient in the world. Using the InnovaGen® fuel processor we can open up new markets for biodiesel and a former waste product, glycerol, further improving the environmental footprint of our facilities. We are excited to partner with InnovaTek to open these new markets.”

“The demonstration of the InnovaGen® fuel processor with renewable liquid fuels further establishes the flexibility and value of InnovaTek’s technology for sustainable power production. We are committed to the development and commercialization of innovative products that will reduce emissions and offer viable alternatives to petroleum”, said Patricia Irving, CEO and founder of InnovaTek.

InnovaTek is presenting its paper, “Hydrogen Production from Bio-Diesel Fuel in a Microchannel Steam Reformer”, at the National Hydrogen Association Annual Conference this week. This year’s conference is emphasizing the use of renewable energy in the production of hydrogen. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will attend the conference to emphasize California’s commitment to the “Hydrogen Hyway”. In Washington, the State Legislature announced the passage of a Renewable Fuel Standard which will mandate the use of up to five percent biodiesel in all diesel sold in state. The bill is on Governor Gregoire’s desk and will be signed into law within the week.

InnovaTek Inc., is a Richland, WA, based company which creates technologies for environmental safety and sustainable power. The Company is a leader in portable fuel processing technology and advanced catalysts for hydrogen production from petroleum and renewable fuels. Its InnovaGen® fuel processor can be used for a broad range of fuel choices, both liquid and gaseous. It has been demonstrated to efficiently produce hydrogen from diesel, jet fuel, biodiesel, vegetable oil, glycerol, gasoline, propane, natural gas, and methanol.

Founded in 2003, Seattle BioFuels, Inc. is a national leader in next generation biodiesel refining and manufacturing technology.  Seattle BioFuels is the first company in the Pacific Northwest to open and operate a commercial scale (over 5 million gallons a year) American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) certified biodiesel refinery (Seattle Biodiesel). Using proprietary technology, the company produces a diesel fuel alternative made from vegetable oil. Biodiesel requires no infrastructure change and offers a viable and immediate solution to easing the United States dependence on foreign oil and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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