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May 02, 2024 | Tom Ballard

EPA approves use of renewable gasoline blendstock developed with ORNL technology

The VertiGas20 green gasoline product is made from renewable ethanol produced by a method called Conventional Alcohol Deoxygenation and Oligomerization, a technology originally invented at ORNL.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the registration and use of a renewable gasoline blendstock developed by Vertimass LLC of Irvine, CA and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that can significantly reduce the emissions profile of vehicles when added to conventional fuels.

EPA approved the blending of up to 20 percent of the VertiGas20 green gasoline product with conventional gasoline. The low-cost, biomass-derived product is made from renewable ethanol produced by a method called Conventional Alcohol Deoxygenation and Oligomerization (CADO), a technology originally invented at ORNL.

Ethanol is a familiar biofuel made from plants such as corn and sugar cane. It has been blended with gasoline since the 1970s to reduce reliance on imported oil and lower vehicle greenhouse gas emissions but is currently limited to blending at 10 to 15 percent without vehicle modifications. Upgrading ethanol using the ORNL technology resulted in a more energy-dense hydrocarbon product that can be blended at higher quantities without changes to car and truck engines.

The technology was licensed exclusively to Vertimass in 2014, and the company then worked to scale up the process. Vertimass collaborated with ORNL, Technip Energies, and the Department of Energy to optimize CADO and its novel catalyst, test it under varying conditions, analyze the technoeconomic and life-cycle sustainability of the process, and develop data for commercialization. The results demonstrated the new blendstock retains its sustainability benefits as it was scaled for commercial deployment.

“VertiGas20 represents a significant step toward producing more renewable fuels, compatible with the existing infrastructure, which will help mitigate climate change,” explained Vertimass Chief Operating Officer Dr. John Hannon. “By producing green gasoline at current and new ethanol production facilities and stand-alone plants, Vertimass will be able to provide significant volumes of sustainable gasoline that help meet the climate change goals of the EU and U.S. The Vertimass CADO technology together with electric vehicles can help move us toward a sustainable future.”

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