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Study: Biomass-to-Liquids Could Meet 20% of Fuel Consumption in Germany

Second-generation biofuels such as Fischer-Tropsch Biomass-to-Liquids (BtL) are technically feasible and one of the most promising options for future fuels, according to a study just released by the German Energy Agency (Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH—dena).

Germany has sufficient biomass available for large-scale BtL production which could meet 20% of today’s fuel requirements, according to the study. That could increase to 35% by 2030 as technology improves.

Production cost for BtL could be lowered to less than €0.80 per liter (US$3.98 per gallon US).

The study said construction of a BtL plant consuming around one million tonnes of biomass annually would be the next development stage to test BtL technology for commercial-scale production.

Biofuels are so far, and into the foreseeable future, the only renewable alternative to fossil fuels. They can contribute to energy supply security, climatic protection and creation of value in rural areas.

—Clemens Neumann, head of sustainable materials department, German Ministry of Agriculture

BtL is one of the most promising renewable energy technologies for fuels. Thanks to their large potential for CO2 savings and increased efficiency, BtL fuels can make a crucial contribution to improving the climatic balance of transport.

—Dr. Thomas Schlick, managing director of the German automobile industry federation (Verbandes der Automobilindustrie—VDA)

BtL fuels are completely compatible with today’s engines as well as future engine generations, Dr. Schlick stressed.

The study explored five different locations with different types of biomass and infrastructure but that met the fundamental requirements of either sufficient local or easily sourced and transported biomass.

The study found that substantial synergies can be obtained by integrating BtL production—which first gasifies biomass to produce syngas for input to the Fischer-Tropsch process—in existing refinery and chemical plants.



Roger Pham

I wonder how many % of transportation demand can be met if biomass to Hydrogen to power highly-efficient ICE-HEV with even higher efficiency than diesel engine? Or biomass to electricity for BEV or PHEV? I would think 40% of transportation demands can be met with H2 or electric vehicles from biomass conversion.

Robert Schwartz

The link target was in German. Is there an English version?


The U.S. could probably do 20% or more also. 1b tons of biomass makes 100b gallons of biofuel. Just have to form the captial and get with it!


Just in German at this time.


$400-$500 billion, 10-15 years, 2x if going for replacement of all crude US consumption. Additionally, it is roughly a dollar less-$2.80/ga gas reg equivalent-for BTL in the US.


If you add this to more efficient vehicles, you could make real progress.
Biomass has real potential, and is still in its infancy.


Fischer-Tropsch to liquids is old and well established technology. No hope for major break-through. Current study confirms what I have said before many times: biomass gasification is not economical, mostly because of low-calorific and wet feedstock, but also because of high price to collect and haul it to big plant (and BTL plant should be big). The price of BTL fuel “could be lowered” to be as small as twice the price of gasoline!

Only highly concentrated dry biomass is good for gasification, such as bark. Everything else is better to be fermented on small-scale cellulosic ethanol plants located close to feedstock.


I saw another German study (led by a German prof in this area) which had calculated that >50% of current fuel use could be covered by home-grown BTL.


There are many professional articles outlining gasification of biomass with moisture content. The DOE has a major program funded for gasification. I would not count out any technology without all the facts. We are not here to form policy, but to discuss enviornmentatlly friendly transportation technologies...all of them.


There is never going to be a cheap solution for any energy need. Especially in the next few decades. Just like 100 years ago gasoline was very expensive, so where cars, so was electricity. Look at the value of gas back then in todays dollars, you will be in for a shock. Just as it has always been, Now its industralized on a grand scale and not so expensive. Hence why it is being used. transportation via vehicles will be a luxury and not everyone can and or will have it, its going to be expensive. In the future, Fuel is going to be limited, even from renewable sources. There is never going to be a time when the GGE is going to be less than a dollar ever. There is never going to be a time when energy and fuel is free or so cheap that everyone can benefit from it. Its going to be a luxury for those who can afford it and be innovative to make use of it. Simple economic facts :)



I think the problem is sort of opposite; before oil gets expensive enough to force a change in the western lifestyle, we will have enough cheap fuel e.g. from tar sands and CTL that we'll seriously damage the earths ecosystem before rising fuel prices put a stop to it.


It is the classic crossover point in economics. When gasoline gets to $5 per gallon in the U.S. then the alternate sources will be competitive and come online. You can still get oil, but it will cost a lot and from less friendly and stable sources.

Cheryl Ho

There are DME developments in China today:
DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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