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Petrobras joining DIBANET biofuels consortium; diesel miscible biofuels from biomass
12 March 2013
|DIBANET aimes to advance the art in several key areas in diesel miscible diesel production. Source: DIBANET. Click to enlarge.|
Petrobras is joining the DIBANET (Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches Network) consortium—a 45-month, €3.73-million (US$4.9-million) research project that is funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Program. (Earlier post.) DIBANET is coordinated by the Carbolea Research Group at the University of Limerick in Ireland.
DIBANET focuses on the conversion, by non-biological means, of the lignocellulosic biomass residues and wastes of Europe and Latin America to platform chemicals, such as levulinic acid and furfural, and biofuels. More specifically, DIBANET is advancing the art in the production of ethyl-levulinate from organic wastes and residues. Ethyl levulinate (EL) is a novel diesel miscible biofuel (DMB) produced by esterifying ethanol with levulinic acid.
Petrobras will help in evaluating the commercial potential of the technologies developed in the project. These include a patented pretreatment process that allows for the highly efficient separation and recovery of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose from biomass, as well as advanced methods of hydrolysis that allow for high yields of levulinic acid, furfural, and co-products to be obtained from lignocellulosic feedstocks.
Petrobras has shown increasing interest in recent years in the production of sustainable biofuels. The company, which has been collaborating with Prof. Victor Teixeira da Silva, a researcher at DIBANET partner, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), for some time, became interested in the DIBANET project during the Summer School and Networking Event, organized by Prof. Teixeira for the project, in Rio de Janeiro in 2010.
The addition of Petrobras to the DIBANET consortium is a significant event and a great reflection of the progress that has been achieved. Petrobras will be of immense help in allowing us to determine the most appropriate ways to advance towards the implementation of the advanced processes that we have developed over the past three years.—DIBANET project leader Prof. Michael Hayes, Carbolea Biomass Research Group
DIBANET’s work program was broken down into six Work Packages (WP): one consortium management, four technical research and technology development (RTD), and one dissemination and exploitation. The four RTD packages are:
- WP2: Feedstocks for Diesel Miscible Biofuel Production.
- WP3: Biorefining Reactor and Process Development.
- WP4: DMBs via the Pyrolysis and Upgrading of Biorefining Residues.
- WP5: Assessment of DMBs and Their Potential.
In October 2012, DIBANET published a report with analysis of DMBs produced. Among the significant achievements highlighted in the report were:
Samples of Ethyl Levulinate (EL) received in June 2012 from the University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) had lower water content than previous samples received. The lower content of water in the samples allowed for the preparing of blended diesel fuels that comply with the requirements of the EN 590 specification.
Blends were prepared using 5% of Ethyl Levulinate (EL) in diesel and biodiesel. YPF confirmed the blend had a reduction of two points in cetane number. It was found necessary to add 500ppm of additive to compensate for the reduction in cetane number.
Most of the parameters of the blend meet the EN590 specification. The addition of EL within the blend showed an improved performance in lubricity.
The project has also published a report on the catalysts for the catalytic pyrolysis process of acid hydrolysis residues (AHR). This process focuses on the production of an upgraded bio-oil that could be used as diesel or diesel miscible biofuel and it is an upgrading process of AHR.
The DIBANET Chemical Database provides information on the lignocellulosic, elemental and moisture contents of selected energy crops (e.g. Miscanthus), agricultural residues (e. g. from sugarcane, coffee, banana and coconut) and wastes of Europe and Latin America as well as on their predicted yields from biorefining technologies.
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