Researchers from the US and China have determined that a duckweed biorefinery producing a range of gasoline, diesel and kerosene products can be economically competitive with petroleum-based processes, even in some cases without environmental legislation that penalizes greenhouse gas emissions. A paper describing their analysis of four different scenarios for... Read more →

China-US team develops new platinum-cobalt nanocatalysts for low-temperature aqueous phase Fischer-Tropsch synthesis

Researchers from China and the US have developed Pt−Co nanoparticles (NPs) which proved to be effective and efficient catalysts for aqueous-phase Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) at 433 K (160 °C)—a lower operational temperature than can be achieved with conventional catalysts. A report on their work is published in the Journal of... Read more →

Researchers develop new Fischer-Tropsch catalyst and production method; Total patents both

A team of researchers led by University of Amsterdam (UvA) chemists has developed new Fischer-Tropsch catalysts—consisting of ultra-thin cobalt shells surrounding inexpensive iron oxide cores—that can be used to produce synthetic fuels from natural gas and biomass. The method used to produce the catalysts is based on an approach previously... Read more →

Planned cellulosic biofuel production by 2015. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge. US Commercial-scale production of cellulosic biofuels reached about 20,000 gallons in late 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5 million gallons this year, as operations ramp up... Read more →

DOE to award up to $6M for projects to develop advanced biomass supply chain technologies

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000836) for up to $6 million for projects that will develop and demonstrate supply chain technologies to deliver commercial-scale lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks affordably to biorefineries across the country. DOE’s updated Billion Ton Study (earlier post) finds that... Read more →

Forest BtL’s process. Click to enlarge. Finland-based Forest BtL Oy has licensed Carbo-V biomass gasification technology from Linde Engineering Dresden GmbH. The Carbo-V technology will be implemented in a new Biomass–to-Liquid (BtL) plant in Kemi, Northern Finland. The commercial operation for the production of biodiesel and naphtha via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis... Read more →

Southern Research Institute wins $1.5M DOE award to test new coal-biomass-to-liquids method; seeking to reduce cost and environmental impact

Southern Research Institute has entered into a $1.5-million cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy to test an innovative method for producing liquid transportation fuels from coal and biomass, thereby improving the economics and lifecycle impacts of coal-to-liquid (CTL) and coal-biomass-to-liquid (CBTL) processes. The novel approach eliminates the conventional... Read more →

Functional elements of the GEM*STAR reactor. Source: Muons, Inc. Click to enlarge. Muons, Inc., a private-sector high-energy accelerator physics firm, and ADNA (Accelerator-Driven Neutron Applications) Corp., are proposing using spent nuclear fuel (SNF), natural uranium, or excess weapons-grade plutonium (W-Pu) in a proposed GEM*STAR accelerator-driven subcritical reactor (ADSR) to provide... Read more →

EC awards €1.2B from NER300 “Robin Hood” mechanism for 23 renewable energy projects; 5 advanced biofuel projects targeted for €516.8M

The European Commission awarded more than €1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) funding to 23 highly renewable energy demonstration projects—including five advanced biofuels projects with maximum combined funding of €516.8 million (US$687 million), or 43% of the total—under the first call for proposals for the NER300 program. Funding for the program comes... Read more →

DOE seeks input on barriers to thermochemical liquefaction conversion of biomass to drop-in transportation fuels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000796) to garner input from researchers in industry, academia, and other interested biofuels stakeholders to identify key technical barriers in converting biomass via thermochemical direct liquefaction pathways to transportation fuels in the gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel... Read more →

NREL/Chevron team characterizes chemical composition and properties of renewable diesels derived from FT, hydrotreating, and fermentation of sugar

A team from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Chevron Corporation has examined the chemical composition and properties of several diesel fuels and blendstocks derived from Fischer−Tropsch (FT) synthesis, hydroisomerization of lipids, and fermentation of sugar via the terpenoid metabolic pathway. In a paper published in the ACS... Read more →

DOE issues request for information on conversion technologies for advanced hydrocarbon biofuels, feedback on draft CTAB roadmap

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000775) to obtain input from stakeholders and the research community regarding technologies for the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass to intermediates and for the upgrading of biomass derived intermediates to hydrocarbon transportation fuels and blendstocks. DOE is interested... Read more →

Researchers use PEM fuel cell reactor to convert biomass-derived acetone into isopropanol; new biomass to fuels pathway

A team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology of South Korea has demonstrated the feasibility of using proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) reactors electrocatalytically to reduce biomass-derived oxygenates into renewable fuels and chemicals. George Huber, UW-Madison professor of chemical and biological engineering, and his... Read more →

Using Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuel or blend can significantly reduce gaseous particulate matter and gaseous emissions compared to standard military jet (JP-8) fuel when used in a T63 gas-turbine helicopter engine, according to a new study by a team from the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, Carnegie Mellon University and... Read more →

RAND reports suggest US DoD use less petroleum fuel to deal with high prices, not count on alternatives

According to three new reports on “Promoting International Energy Security” issued by the RAND Corporation, because the energy purchases made by the US Department of Defense are not large enough to influence world oil prices—despite DoD requiring considerable amounts of fuel to function—cutting fuel use is the only effective choice... Read more →

US DOE to award up to $3M for coal-biomass-to-liquid projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to a total of $3 million to projects (1) to develop and to test novel technologies for the economical and environmentally-sustainable conversion of coal-biomass feedstocks to liquid transportation fuels (CBTL) and (2) to assess concepts and evaluate the feasibility of building... Read more →

The biorefinery collective encompasses multiple pyrolyzer collectives. Credit: ACS, Manganaro and Lawal. Click to enlarge. Given a sufficiently large production scale, liquid fuels such as diesel produced from crop residue could be economically competitive with petroleum-derived fuels at current price levels, suggests a new study by a team from the... Read more →

BioBoost project targets conversion of biomass into intermediate energy carriers for subsequent conversion into fuels, chemicals, power and heat

Six research institutions and seven industrial partners from Europe will participate in the new BioBoost project, aimed at converting residual biomass into energy carriers for the production of high-quality and engine-compatible fuels and chemicals as well as for the generation of electricity and heat. The project, coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute... Read more →

Technological barriers and research needs. Click to enlarge. Separations play a critical role in biofuel production and that fundamental research in the are, including the identification of transformative approaches, is needed to generate separation technologies that will enable larger-scale production, according to a report on a workshop convened earlier this... Read more →

The steam hydrogasification reaction is one component of a three-step process for the production of fuels. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) at the Bourns College of Engineering have received two grants to further explore a steam hydrogasification process... Read more →

USDA adds four more Biomass Crop Assistance Program project areas

The US Department of Agriculture has created four additional Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas (earlier post) in six states to expand the availability of non-food crops to be used in the manufacturing of liquid biofuels. The four project areas set aside acres in California, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon... Read more →

Comparison of biomass-to-wheel (BTW) efficiency for different biomass utilization scenarios. Sugar Fuel Cell Vehicles and BEVs charged with electricity from a fuel cell (green bars) were the most efficient. Huang and Zhang. Click to enlarge. The potential role of biomass-derived fuels as a substitute for petroleum has engendered a great... Read more →

7 airlines sign letters of intent to negotiate purchase of biomass-derived jet fuel from Solena Fuels; up to 16M gallons of fuel per year

A core group of airlines has signed letters of intent with Solena Fuels, LLC for a future supply of jet fuel derived exclusively from biomass to be produced in northern California. Solena’s “GreenSky California” biomass-to-liquids (BTL) facility in Northern California (Santa Clara County) will utilize post-recycled urban and agricultural wastes... Read more →

GHG emission comparison between fossil diesel, transesterified lipids, HVO and woody BTL. GD = HVO; RSO = Rapeseed Oil; SBO = Soybean oil; Biodiesel = Transesterified lipids. Sunde et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers in Norway reviewing the lifecycle impacts and costs of three renewable fuels—(1) transesterified lipids, (2) hydrotreated... Read more →

Researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology, BASF Catalyst and Golden BioMass Fuels Corporation report on their investigation of an energy balance, in broad outline, for the production of a high-quality synthetic diesel from residual crop biomass via a Fischer-Tropsch route in a paper published in the ACS journal Energy... Read more →

BP and Davy select 3 leading EPC contractors for BP/Davy Fischer-Tropsch commercial deployment

BP and Davy Process Technology announced collaborations with three EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractors to promote the commercialization of the BP/Davy Fischer-Tropsch (FT) Process. The BP/Davy fixed-bed FT process produces diesel, jet fuel (JP8) and naphtha from natural gas, biomass- or coal-derived syngas. CB&I Lummus UK Limited, Jacobs Engineering... Read more →

WTW total energy and fossil energy use. Credit: ACS, Xie et al. Click to enlarge. A new study by Michael Wang and Jeongwoo Han at Argonne National Laboratory and Xiaomin Xie at Shanghai Jiao Tong University assesses the effects of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and cellulosic biomass and... Read more →

Schematic diagram of the biomass-gasification-reforming system. Credit: ACS, Wang et al. Click to enlarge. A team from the Key Laboratory of Renewable Energy and Gas Hydrate, Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences reports on a pilot-scale biomass-gasification-reforming system with optimized catalyst to produce synthesis gas for liquid... Read more →

Fuel and vehicle propulsion strategy. (Source: ERTRAC) Click to enlarge. Alternative fuels have the potential gradually to replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission last week by the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels. The EU will... Read more →

RAND study concludes use of alternative fuels by US military would convey no direct military benefit; recommends energy efficiency instead

If the US military increases its use of alternative jet and naval fuels that can be produced from coal or various renewable resources, including seed oils, waste oils and algae, there will be no direct benefit to the nation’s armed forces, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Any benefits... Read more →

Microchannel reactors enhance heat transfer and mass transfer and enable intrinsic rates. Source: Oxford Catalysts Group. Click to enlarge. The Oxford Catalysts Group has received its first order for a full-scale commercial FT microchannel reactor from its partner SGC Energia (SGCE). The FT microchannel reactor, comprising tens of thousands of... Read more →

Fuel provisions in the Tax Relief bill

US President Barack Obama on Friday signed H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (“Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010”). The bill, among its other provisions, contains a number of provisions related to energy (Title VII, Subtitle A) and within that, provisions... Read more →

Greenhouse has (GHG) index (top) and GHG avoided values for all 16 Fischer-Tropsch liquids systems analyzed along with those for ethanol (with and without CCS). GHGI of 1 is equivalent to fossil-fuel products. Credit: ACS, Liu et al. Click to enlarge. A detailed study by researchers from China and the... Read more →

Lufthansa to use Neste Oil NExBTL renewable jet fuel in 6-month commercial flight trial

In April 2011, Lufthansa will begin a six-month trial of renewable jet fuel with an Airbus A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of Neste Oil’s NExBTL renewable jet biofuel and traditional kerosene. The other engine... Read more →

Solena signs LOI with Rentech for Fischer-Tropsch technology for first commercial-scale renewable jet fuel facility in Europe

The Solena Group, Inc., a bioenergy and biofuels company based in Washington DC, has signed a letter of intent with Rentech, Inc. for the use of Rentech’s proprietary Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuel technology in Solena’s BioJetFuel project—GreenSky—in the United Kingdom. (Earlier post.) The facility will convert more than 500,000 metric... Read more →

Schema for the F-T BTL plant. Click to enlarge. Neste Oil’s and Stora Enso’s joint venture, NSE Biofuels Oy (earlier post), will begin environmental impact assessments for a commercial-scale biomass-to-liquids (BTL)biorefinery at Porvoo and at Imatra in Finland. The two locations are seen as potential alternative sites for a unit... Read more →

Reactor system process and instrumentation. Inset shows more detail on the reactor vessel. Source: Purdue University. Click to enlarge. Researchers at Purdue University have developed a facility aimed at learning the chemical kinetic processes in coal and biomass gasification to improve thermodynamic efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of the... Read more →

Honeywell UOP Technology Selected to Support Conversion of Biomass to Fuel at California Renewable Energy Facility

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that its technology has been selected for use in Rentech, Inc.’s Rialto Renewable Energy Center for the conversion of biomass to transportation fuels. The renewable energy center, to be built in Rialto, Calif., will convert biomass, such as yard and tree trimmings, into renewable... Read more →

Oxford Catalysts Reports Microchannel Biomass-to-Liquids FT Pilot at Güssing Showing 4-8x Greater Productivity Than Conventional Systems

Oxford Catalysts Group PLC, reported that its microchannel reactor Fischer-Tropsch (FT) pilot unit is achieving good performance in phase one of the demonstration at Güssing (earlier post) and that it remains on track to secure a commercial order upon completion of the technical milestones. The company said that the operations... Read more →

New Zealand Strategic Assessment of Biofuels Calls for Emphasis on Synthetic Diesel from Wood

A report from the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, is calling for a more strategic approach to biofuels. The report, “Some biofuels are better than others”, addresses the pros and cons of various biofuels and biofuels policy. The report concludes, and Commissioner Wright emphasizes in... Read more →

Displacement of fossil fuels via a combination of biofuels, vehicle efficiency and electromobility under the three scenarios of the study. Zah et al. Click to enlarge. Up to 40-45% of fossil fuel use for transportation in Switzerland could be replaced by 2030 through a combination of second-generation biofuels, increased vehicle... Read more →

Report Suggests Biorefineries May Have a Major Role in Mitigating Climate Change, Addressing Energy Security, and Creating Economic Growth

Biorefineries may have a major role to play in mitigating the threat of climate change; meeting the “seemingly boundless demand” for energy, fuels, chemicals and materials; and creating economic growth, according to a new report released by the World Economic Forum: The Future of Industrial Biorefineries. The report defines a... Read more →

Alberta Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation Awarding C$37.5 Million in Funding for Renewable Energy Projects from Biofuels to Home Generation

Alberta, Canada’s Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCMEC) Corporation is awarding more than C$37.5 million (US$36.6 million) to five Alberta-based renewable energy projects including waste to biofuels and energy, concentrating solar power, biogas and home generation. Funding for the CCEMC comes from the Government of Alberta, which collects it from... Read more →

DOE, USDA Announce Up To $33M in Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative

The US Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) jointly announced up to $33 million in funding, subject to annual appropriations, for the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to develop biomass feedstocks for the associated production of advanced biofuels (such as biobutanol, renewable hydrocarbons and Fischer-Tropsch fuels), bioenergy and... Read more →

Successful Engineering Validation Flight of US Commercial Jet Using 40:60 Synthetic Jet Fuel Blend

United Airlines has conducted a successful engineering validation flight using Rentech’s certified synthetic jet fuel (RenJet). The validation flight was conducted using a 40:60 mix of Rentech’s synthetic jet fuel with conventional Jet A fuel in one of two engines on an Airbus 319 aircraft. The aircraft departed Denver International... Read more →

University of South Florida Spinout Targeting FT Jet Fuel from Biomass with New Catalyst and Process

A spinout from work at the University of South Florida is developing a new Fischer-Tropsch-based (FT) process to produce hydrocarbon transportation fuels—initially jet fuel—from biomass. Instead of using an iron catalyst as in conventional FT systems, COSI Catalysts Inc. has developed a new cobalt silica-supported eggshell design catalyst. Cobalt has... Read more →

Measured effects on conversion and yield with and without membrane integration (full symbols=without membrane; empty symbols=with membrane). Credit: ACS, Unruh et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers from the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) in Germany have shown that hydrocarbon yield and energy efficiency can be increased in a Fischer-Tropsch (FT)... Read more →

Left: PRENFLO PDQ gasifier. Right: Flow diagram of the PRENFLO PDQ process. Click to enlarge. Uhde is contributing its proprietary PRENFLO gasification process with direct quench to the French BioTfueL research project (earlier post). BioTfueL is integrating the various technology stages of the biomass-to-liquid process with the intention of commercialization.... Read more →

ClearFuels to Develop Co-Located Commercial-Scale Biorefinery for Renewable Jet or Diesel Production in Tennessee

Biomass-to-liquids company ClearFuels Technology Inc. and Hughes Hardwood International, Inc. have executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the development of a commercial scale biorefinery facility for the production of renewable jet or diesel fuel. The renewable energy facility will be co-located with Hughes Hardwood’s wood component products manufacturing facility... Read more →

British Airways, in partnership with the Solena Group, will establish Europe’s first plant for sustainable jet-fuel and plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet from 2014. The plant will gasify waste biomass, and use a Fischer-Tropsch process to convert the resulting syngas to biojet fuel... Read more →