CHAPEL HILL, NC - Maverick Biofuels said it is planning to build a pilot-scale biorefinery in North Carolina to produce biofuels from biomass and municipal solid waste. 

With 85 percent of the energy of gasoline, Maverick's mixed-alcohol biofuel will serve as a replacement for ethanol in fuel blends and will be able to eliminate the use of gasoline in flexible-fuel vehicles, the company said. The pilot-scale biorefinery represents the next step toward design and construction of a large-scale commercial facility. 

Maverick stressed that its product isn't like first-generation ethanol-based biofuels that rely on edible feedstocks. The company's clean-energy technology and a gasification-based process can convert biomass, such as crop and timber waste or municipal solid waste, into biofuels that are cleaner-burning than gasoline, Maverick said. 

Mixed-alcohol biofuel can be blended at higher percentages than pure ethanol, further offsetting the use of gasoline. The higher energy content of Maverick's mixed-alcohol translates to higher gas mileage, when compared to ethanol or ethanol blends, and contributes to reducing the dependency on petroleum. 

U.S. law mandates that 36 billion gallons per year of alternative fuels be produced and distributed by 2022. With the current U.S. ethanol production at approximately 13 billion gallons per year, there remains a large gap in production to be filled with second-generation biofuels. 

"There is a tremendous amount of interest, in the U.S. and abroad, in environment-friendly, second-generation biofuel production technologies that don't use food sources and that help increase energy independence," said Sam Yenne, CEO for Maverick Biofuels. "Our technology uses waste -- not food -- as a feedstock and involves three well-understood thermo-chemical and chemical processes that have never been combined to produce mixed-alcohol biofuels." 

In addition to using biomass as a feedstock, the Maverick process can use municipal solid waste for the production of biofuels. Estimates indicate that at least 60 percent of the materials going into landfills can be diverted for commercial biofuel production. This approach could more than double the life of the landfill and significantly reduce its operating cost. 

Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine