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Velocys puts pedal to the metal with energy, chemical expertise

Better. Faster. Cheaper. That's the credo in most industries, and especially the mega-dollar energy and chemical segments around the world segments that keep all the others humming.

Velocys Inc., of Plain City, helps processors speed their products to market in the most efficient way. The key is proprietary "microchannel process technology" covered by more than 100 patents.

"Velocys chemical processors are characterized by parallel arrays of microchannels, with typical dimensions in the 0.01- to 0.20-inch range. Processes are intensified by decreasing transfer resistance between process fluids and channel walls. This structure allows use of more active catalysts than conventional systems, greatly increasing the throughput per unit volume. Overall system volumes can be reduced by ten- to one hundred- fold compared to conventional hardware," the company says on its web site.

In the area of next-generation biofuels, for example, Velocys' smaller, modular systems streamline procedures at refineries. Likewise, "microchanneling" helps makers of pharmaceuticals, food products, adhesives, and personal care products improve the emulsification steps of manufacturing.

A group of scientists and engineers developed that technology at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility operated by Battelle Memorial Institute. They founded Velocys in 2001, and seven years later became part of Oxford Catalysts Group plc, a UK corporation which designs and develops specialty catalysts for the generation of clean fuels from biomass and waste, as well as fossil sources.

Last year Velocys earned a $5-million Third Frontier Research Commercialization Program grant for improving biomass-to-liquid facilities. Also, the company was part of a consortium awarded $2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance processing of biomass feedstock.

The company employs 60. Its growth plans for 2010 include beginning operations of its first field demonstration unit.

Source: Jeff McDaniel, Velocys
Writer: Gabriella Jacobs

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