Syntec biomass-to-alcohol process continues to improve yield

Syntec Biofuel Inc. (Syntec), the Canadian company developing biomass to fuel conversion technologies, has announced that it has achieved a yield of 105 gallons of alcohol (ethanol, methanol, n- butanol and n-propanol) per ton of biomass. This is not far short of their target is 113 US gallons per ton of biomass (previous post).

According to Syntec this yield is equivalent to revenues in excess of $27 million per year for a 300 ton per day biomass processing facility. Michael Jackson, President of Syntec made the following statement:

We are consistently seeing monthly improvements in our Biomass to Alcohols (B2A) process. This level of achievement makes the B2A process profitable in relatively small scale facilities using a wide variety of waste biomass feedstocks in any combination.

The Syntec B2A technology, initially developed at the University of British Columbia, is a second-generation cellulosic ethanol production process. The Syntec process parallels the low-pressure catalytic synthesis process that has been used by methanol producers.

Syntec’s innovative technology uses any renewable waste biomass such as hard or soft wood, sawdust or bark, organic waste, agricultural waste (including sugar cane bagasse and corn stover), switch-grass to produce syngas. This syngas, comprised of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is then scrubbed and passed through a fixed bed reactor containing the Syntec catalysts to produce ethanol, methanol and higher order alcohols. The Syntec technology can also produce alcohols from biogas (sourced from anaerobic digestion of manure and effluent), landfill gas or stranded methane.

Recent media coverage on ethanol produced from agricultural crops, such as corn, has prompted an international questioning of the ethics and “hidden costs” of such alternative fuels.

Syntec technology only uses sustainable waste biomass to produce its biofuel. We believe strongly that fueling the worlds energy needs can be achieved without further impact to our environment, and that we possess the best and most ethical solution to bio-ethanol production.

This is the type of ethanol production process I like to promote because fuel produced from sustainable waste equals sustainable mobility. The fact that this technology is efficient in small plants co-located with waste streams and recycles water should also make it ideal for Australian conditions.

Source: Syntec


2 Responses

  1. Did Syntec Biofuel Inc hit the magic catalyst formula or is Syntec perpetrating one of the biggest scams in biofuel history??????
    Where is the evidence to Syntec’s claims for 105 gallons of alcohols from 1ton of wood??? Where is the plant or the equipment which is supposed to have produced this miracle? Where is the confirmation of independent investigators??????

    I was personally involved with Syntec in the past 6 years, right from it’s conception. I was consulting the Syntec on equipment matters for the lab and for possible future production. My company has built some equipment for Syntec as well. I was not involved in catalyst research itself, however, later on I had access to all information to know what was happening.
    From my personal experience the Syntec was always very high on hype and nearly zero on real substance

    I visited Syntec company numerous times when it still operated from University of British Columbia campus. My last visit to the company was in the spring 2006 when I was called in to evaluate the progress. At that time the company has already moved to rented facility in Burnaby. I found that all process catalysts developed by Syntec up to date were worthless for any commercial production including those that were developed earlier in University of British Columbia.
    The Ethanol yields were absolutely pathetic per volume of catalyst. Catalysis was done on micro laboratory scale, using only 1gram catalyst samples, just enough for gas chromatography analyses.
    See the lab pictures at:

    The reaction favored the production of methane, water and some hydrocarbons. Only about 8% of the synthesis products were alcohols and Methanol formation was prevalent. Up to my last visit, the Syntec company has never gasified a single gram of wood or any other biomass for their synthesis feedstock gas. All experimental, and always unsuccessful synthesis was done from pure Bottled Gasses.
    I was extremely distressed to see that only one researcher (Caili Su) was working on catalyst research. Only one catalyst sample was run in several days and the results were always bad. After my last visit I realized that the whole Syntec company was based on big hype and nothing else. As shareholder, ( I had over 50,000 shares ) I was personally very disgusted with the pathetic company progress and all the hype. Up to my last visit I was led to believe, as were all other investors, that something magic was happening in Ethanol production catalyst research. Now I suddenly realized it was all worthless hype and that I was being taken to the cleaners.

    Shortly after my last visit in early 2006 the company was taken over by Michael Jackson (a minority shareholder up to that time) who by skillful legal maneuvering (he is a lawyer) and his personal greed forced the company very quickly into bankruptcy and then bought the assets of the company from bankruptcy trustee via Montilla Capital Inc. In my opinion the trustee’s appraiser did undervalue the Syntec’s assets and of course there was no second professional opinion as to real value of the company.
    The Ethanol catalysts that Syntec was so proud of were worthless, however, the equipment in the lab had higher value than it was sold for by bankruptcy trustee.
    See the court case at:
    In this way the Jackson took complete control of the company and all original 25 Syntec investors lost all their money because no shares were transferred. Jackson simply ruthlessly screwed all previous Syntec shareholders because of $20,000 owed to him.
    From there on I did not pay much attention to further Syntec affairs until today when I see another of theirs hyped claims . As far as I know, at present the company has only skeleton staff and no facility to actually synthetically produce alcohol in105 gallon volume.
    All their overblown claims and wishful thinking seams to be based on theoretical analyses and practically nothing on solid reality. All seams to be designed to fool the unsuspecting investor.

    Am I wrong??? Hardly! Let analyze it very simply by BTU on BTU (British Thermal Unit) basis. Syntec claims to make 105 gallons of Ethanol from one ton of wood waste. We know that oven dry ton of wood waste has about 16 million BTU energy content. 105 gallons of ethanol has 8,820,000 BTU energy content, therefore, the wood conversion to Ethanol and higher alcohols would be 55% efficient. I was not born yesterday to believe this nonsense. Not even coal to liquids conversion is this efficient.
    It is highly unlikely that Syntec would all of a sudden go from a few % conversion rate to 55% conversion in less than 2 years with the skeleton staff it has in their mediocre Burnaby facility.
    In order to believe it, their claim needs to be independently confirmed by other competent investigators. Before this happens I will consider it nothing else but another hyped scam.
    In the past Syntec never had any real success in Ethanol production from their catalysts, even the patented one, however that setback did not stop them from publishing highly exaggerated claims. This company hype will end in future history as another great failure in the quest for useful Ethanol production catalyst. In the end, a lot of investors will end up holding an empty bag.
    Before I would personally invest any more money or time into this company I would insist on physical confirmation of their claims. I don’t think it is too much to ask for.

    I have also noticed that Syntec includes Methanol in their alcohol mixture. When it come to methanol it is possible to convert one ton of wood waste to 105 gallons of methanol. In this case the conversion efficiency would be 41% using standard commercial methanol catalyst. All of us know that some methanol catalysts produce traces of Ethanol, Butanol and Propanol, hence Syntec could hide behind methanol scheme all along and thus protect itself from being accused of scam since Syntec claims all of these alcohols in their portfolio. Nevertheless, no one needs Syntec for production of methanol because the methanol technology is already well developed and commercial catalysts are available.
    I advice all potential Syntec investors to investigate this company in detail before investing your money.

    Frank Kandrnal
    Dynamic Energy Corp.

  2. What Frank Kandrnal failed to divulge is that he was a creditor of Syntec and a close friend of the founder, Mr Lawrence Wong, and was regrettably not paid money owed to him by Mr. Wong’s company at the time and therefore exceedingly biased. He also failed to divulge the fact that he built a small methanol pilot plant out of used material for which he charged Syntec full cost which did not work.

    He has also distorted his view of the Syntec process. What he failed to understand was that Mr Wong was more interested in achieving selectivity (ie. more ethanol and not too concerned about yield which is the economic model). That has changed since Dr. Kosanovich (a PhD Chemical Engineer) came on board as CEO in April 2007, and the direction of catalyst development was changed to focus on yield not selectivity, hence Dr Su’s ability to achieve current yield of 105 gpt. Unfortunately, Mr Kandrnal, is totally misinformed and his rambling has no merit.

    This will be my only response as Mr Kandrnal is lacking the knowledge to make a sound judgment.

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