A Stochastic Techno-Economic Analysis of the Catalytic Hydrothermolysis Aviation Biofuel Technology

Elspeth McGarvey, Purdue University


This study analyzed the financial feasibility of the catalytic hydrothermolysis (CH) aviation biofuel technology. Three feedstocks were assessed: brown grease (rendered from grease trap waste), yellow grease (rendered from used cooking oil), and carinata oil. Since the technology carries risk, a stochastic analysis was conducted using @Risk, a Palisade Corporation software, which results in a distribution of net present values (NPVs) and breakeven prices. The breakeven price was the price of jet fuel per gallon that made the NPV equal to zero. A scenario where fuel price grew over time and a scenario where fuel price did not grow were both analyzed. Four plant scenarios were analyzed: 1. Pioneer Brownfield, 2. Nth Brownfield, 3. Pioneer Greenfield, 4. Pioneer Nth. Brown grease was the most promising feedstock scenario, in terms of financial feasibility. Breakeven prices in each feedstock scenario were lowest in the brownfield nth plant scenario, and highest in the greenfield pioneer plant scenario. Across the four plant scenarios and two fuel price growth scenarios, mean breakeven prices ranged from $2.07 – 2.83/gal in the brown grease scenario, $2.89 - 3.81/gal in the yellow grease scenario, and $3.97 – 5.66/gal in the carinata oil scenario. With the addition of RINs and LCFS credits, the probability of loss was as low as 0.0%, 21.5%, and 79.7% in the brown grease, yellow grease, and carinata oil scenarios, respectively.




Tyner, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Agricultural economics

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