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Biofuels converting CO2 to CO to fuel

Published on February 7th, 2014 | by James Ayre

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Gasoline-Like Biofuels From Plant Waste — Promising New Process Developed

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February 7th, 2014 by
 
A new process for the creation of gasoline-like fuels from cellulosic plant waste materials has been developed by researchers from the University of California, Davis.

The process — essentially the first of its kind — means that the commercial production of plant-based biofuels may soon extend beyond biodiesel, and also encompass other important types of fuel.

converting CO2 to CO to fuel


The great advantage of processes such as this — and in contrast to other forms of biofuel production — is that the materials used for the creation of these fuels are waste material. There is no necessity to displace agriculture with methods like the new one — cellulosic plant waste materials are simply not in short supply.

“What’s exciting is that there are lots of processes to make linear hydrocarbons, but until now nobody has been able to make branched hydrocarbons with volatility in the gasoline range,” explained Mark Mascal, a professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author on the research paper.

UC Davis provides more:

Traditional diesel fuel is made up of long, straight chains of carbon atoms, while the molecules that make up gasoline are shorter and branched. That means gasoline and diesel evaporate at different temperatures and pressures, reflected in the different design of diesel and gasoline engines.

Biodiesel, refined from plant-based oils, is already commercially available to run modified diesel engines. A plant-based gasoline replacement would open up a much bigger market for renewable fuels. The feedstock for the new process is levulinic acid, which can be produced by chemical processing of materials such as straw, corn stalks or even municipal green waste. It’s a cheap and practical starting point that can be produced from raw biomass with high yield.

“Essentially it could be any cellulosic material,” Mascal noted. “Because the process does not rely on fermentation, the cellulose does not have to be converted to sugars first.”

Provisional patents for the process have already been filed.

The new research was published on January 29th in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • http://patent.ucoz.ru/ Vlad26

    Nice technology…Use straw for livestock feed or to obtain bio-petrol – is a big question. But wood waste can not be used very often, except to burn.

  • Rick Kargaard

    “The great advantage of processes such as this — and in contrast to other forms of biofuel production — is that the materials used for the creation of these fuels are waste material. There is no necessity to displace agriculture with methods like the new one — cellulosic plant waste materials are simply not in short supply”

    Outside of houshold waste, very little is wasted by agriculture or industry. Agriculture needs much of its waste to maintain soil fertility and structure. Ask a gardener.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I agree that we need to leave organic matter in the fields, but there is a lot of organic material already being removed.

      Take field dried corn. The cobs and shucks already leave the field. Same for rice and wheat hulls. Lots of non-used material when sugar juice is removed from cane and beets.

      We have large amounts of waste from timber processing. Much of this used to go into paper.

      My guess is that none of this waste is now being returned to field or forest.

      • Rick Kargaard

        It would be interesting to find out where it is going. Any replies out there from people in these industries?

        • Bob_Wallace

          At this point what I see is a lot of smoke and little fire.

          There are many approaches to biofuel but few have become competitive with petroleum. This may be the period in which we learn how but don’t use a lot of these fuels until we get really worried about climate change and put a price on carbon.

          We do see some of this waste going into biomass electricity production. Wood waste burned in coal plants, for example. But not so much for liquid fuel.

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