Federal support for biofuel development

Friday, September 2, 2011

The federal government is supporting the research, development, and commercialization of drop-in biofuels.  This week the U.S. Department of Energy announced that three projects will receive up to $12 million in federal investment.

Biofuels have historically included plant-derived liquid fuels like ethanol (derived from corn or cellulosic sources) and biodiesel.  As contemplated by the Department of Energy, drop-in biofuels are designed to be used as additives or even replacements for liquid fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuels, all without requiring modifications to engines or fuel distribution networks.

The United States has expressed interest in biofuels for some time.  For example, after a report suggesting the possibility that petroleum-based fuels might not be available for future military operations under certain circumstances, several branches of the U.S. armed forces started trialing biofuels - and helping fund biofuel R&D and commercialization efforts.

Now, the Department of Energy has announced awards of up to $4 million to each of three projects:

  • Ethanol to jet fuel, with benefits.  The Department of Energy chose Illinois' LanzaTech to develop a process to convert ethanol produced from biomass into jet fuel.  The process is also intended to produce and capture butadiene, an additional bio-product that can make the process more cost-effective.
  • Biomass to bio-crude to gasoline and diesel.  Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina was selected to demonstrate the long-term operation and performance of an integrated process to produce a bio-crude intermediate material from raw biomass, and then upgrade the bio-crude into gasoline and diesel.
  • Biomass to intermediates to gasoline and diesel. Virent Energy Systems, Inc. of Wisconsin was selected to demonstrate yields and scalability for converting biomass into oxygenated chemical intermediates, and then upgrading the intermediates to a hydrocarbon suitable for refining and blending with gasoline and jet fuel.

1 comment:

  fuelcentral said...

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