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Global Bioenergies and Audi renew their partnership in renewable gasoline

Global Bioenergies and Audi signed a new agreement focused on the implementation of biomass residue feedstock usage, preparation of a path to commercialization and engine testing of new blends of renewable gasoline. (Earlier post.)

Following the completion of a first series of engine testing and significant progresses of the isobutene bioproduction process, the two companies have agreed to start a new program.

The recent developments at Global Bioenergies support our vision that e-gasoline might be a game changer in the objective to reduce the GHG emissions in the transport sector in a fast and complete way.

—Reiner Mangold, head of sustainable product development at Audi

The renewable gasoline is essentially a liquid isooctane and is currently produced from biomass in a two-step process. In the first step, Global Bioenergies produces gaseous isobutene (C4H8) in a demonstration plant. In the second step, the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical Biotechnological Processes (CBP) uses additional hydrogen to transform the gaseous isobutene into isooctane (C8H18), ETBE and isododecane (C12H26). The fuel is free of sulfur and benzene and is therefore especially low in pollutants when it burns.

The first focus of the new program will be the regulatory landscape associated with the conversion of various non-food residue feedstocks (for example wheat straw and wood chips) into renewable gasoline.

Another workpackage is dedicated to the preparation of the path to commercialization with third parties. Shipment of a renewable gasoline batch to Audi is also part of the program in order to perform further engine testing.

Global Bioenergies’ renewable gasoline can be blended in high proportion (more than 30%) into fossil gasoline. The mix is suitable for any gasoline engine and therefore interoperable with existing car fleets, without any need for modification.

Its large scale commercialization will not require any specific storage nor distribution infrastructure, thus creating an efficient option for countries in their efforts to meet their CO2 reduction targets, and for cities willing to improve their air quality.

Comments

SJC

Lots of ways we can make fuels for PHEVs.

Engineer-Poet

Curious as to what imposes the 30% blend restriction.  Not enough vapor pressure for cold-starting?  Maybe hydrogenating some of that isobutene to butane would help that.

I had to dig all the way back to this 2015 article to find out where the isobutene comes from.  Turns out it's made by fermentation.  A gaseous product eliminates the costly and inefficient distillation step, which is a plus.  However, we don't know how much carbon is lost as CO2 in the fermentation step.  Something has to carry off the oxygen in the carbohydrate feedstock and it can't be water (you'd also lose the hydrogen), so at best about 1/3 of the carbon in the feedstock is going to come off as CO2.  I suspect the actual performance is much worse.

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