Mobile Solar-Powered Biofuel Processors Will Roam the U.S. in Search of Fuel

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

purdue researchers develop new high efficiency, mobile biofuel refining process that could run on solar powerResearchers at Purdue University have developed a concept for a new biofuel process that could enable the biofuel industry to expand by leaps and bounds.  Until now, one big obstacle has been the cost of transporting large quantities of heavy plant matter to centralized refineries.  The new process would be compact enough to pick up and go to where the biomass is, and convert it to a more efficiently transportable liquid fuel.  On top of that, Purdue’s biofuel concept is designed to work across a spectrum of non-food, woody plant matter, including wood chips, switchgrass and corn stalks.

[social_buttons]

But wait, there’s more.  The new process works by adding hydrogen to the biomass, and the current plan calls for producing hydrogen from natural gas or from the biomass.  Eventually, though, solar power could be used to split water molecules to produce hydrogen, making the process more sustainable as well as more efficient.  Bit by bit, sustainable fuels are loosening the increasingly hazardous grip that fossil fuels have on the U.S. economy.

Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

The Ever-Expanding World of Biofuels

Compared to the petroleum industry, which bets the ranch on a single feedstock that is accessible in increasingly remote, high risk locations, the biofuel industry is developing into a low risk endeavor that embraces the wide variety of biomass produced across the U.S.  The mobile concept calls for converting biomass to a liquid fuel on site.  The raw fuel could then be transported, at far less cost and with a lower carbon footprint, to a refinery for further processing.

Hydrogen and Biofuel Production

The Purdue researchers estimate that the hydrogen-based process would yield up to twice as much biofuel as current technologies.  The concept was developed through modeling, and the next step – experiments to validate the concept – is under way.  If the concept shows potential, it could join a growing list of new high efficiency biofuel production technologies, including exposure to gaseous ozone and the use of tobacco-derived enzymes to unlock carbohydrates from woody plant matter.

Image: Endless road by paraflyer on flickr.com.


Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Video


Advertisement
 
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3293 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey