Merrick Wins ACEC National Honor Award for Hydrothermal Processing Pilot System Project

ACEC National Honor Award
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ACEC National Recognition Award
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COLORADO – May 1, 2017 – Merrick & Company was recognized on April 25, 2017 at the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) gala in Washington, D.C., which honors the year's most outstanding engineering accomplishments. Merrick received a National Honor Award in the Energy category for the hydrothermal processing pilot system (HPPS) project, Oil in Hours, Not Millions of Years.
Genifuel Corporation obtained the license from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for its technology to transform a mixture of 20% algae and 80% water into bio-crude oil and natural gas. PNNL had proven their process at a lab scale, but Genifuel wanted to build a significantly larger (20 times the previous size) pilot system. Merrick provided lump sum turnkey services for this first-of-its-kind application that included engineering, hazard assessment, cost estimating, procurement, fabrication/assembly oversight, and commissioning.
The HPPS is an innovation that converts something as common as algae into transportation fuel. The system was designed using algae as the biomass feedstock, but almost any biosolid mixed in a slurry can be used. This opens the possibility to take hydrocarbon rich waste from other processes such as agricultural, food processing, or wastewater systems and turn that waste into a usable fuel. Since no solvents or chemicals are used, there is no need to then sequester the solvent or chemical at the end of the process. The use of biomass-produced fuel causes no net increase in greenhouse gases and produces clear, sterile water as a byproduct.
Project winners at the state level EEA competitions were eligible for ACEC’s national EEA competition. A panel of judges representing industry, government, academia, and media rated winning work on the following criteria:
  • Uniqueness and innovative applications
  • Future value to the engineering profession and perception by the public
  • Social, economic, and sustainable development considerations
  • Complexity
  • Successful fulfillment of client/owner’s needs