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    Taiwan's Feng Chia University has succeeded in boosting the production of hydrogen from biomass to 15 liters per hour, one of the world's highest biohydrogen production rates, a researcher at the university said Friday. The research team managed to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (which can be captured and stored) from the fermentation of different strains of anaerobes in a sugar cane-based liquefied mixture. The highest yield was obtained by the Clostridium bacterium. Taiwan News - November 14, 2008.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

ConocoPhillips and Archer Daniels Midland team up to develop fuels from bio-oil

ConocoPhillips and Archer Daniels Midland Company today announced that they have agreed to collaborate on the development of renewable transportation fuels from biomass.

The alliance will research and seek to commercialize two components of a next-generation biofuel production process: the conversion of biomass from crops, wood or switchgrass into 'biocrude' (pyrolysis oil, bio-oil) that can be processed into fuel; and the refining of biocrude to produce transportation fuel.

Next-generation biofuels are obtained from two main conversion processes: a biochemical pathway that utilizes dedicated enzymes to break down lignocellulose into secrete fuels and gases (ethanol, biobutanol, biogas, biohydrogen); and a thermochemical pathway that transforms biomass either into a gas (gasification) or into a heavy oil, both of which need further processing into useable liquid and gaseous (transportation) fuels.

Within the thermochemical conversion segment, fast-pyrolysis is a process that rapidly heats (450-600 degrees celsius) biomass in the absence of air. The end product is bio-oil, also known as pyrolysis oil or biocrude. Fast-pyrolysis can yield around 70% of bio-oil from a given biomass feedstock (properties, click to enlarge). The pyrolysis liquid can then be further refined into a range of transportation fuels and green chemicals in dedicated biorefineries or in existing petroleum refineries. Biocrude can also readily be used as an alternative for heating oil and in oil-fired power plants.

A by-product is pyrolysis coke (char), which can be gasified or used directly as fertilizers and as feedstock for green chemistry. Alternatively, this bio-based char can be sequestered into agricultural soils, which results in improved yields (earlier post on the potential for carbon-negative biofuels by sequestring pyrolysis char or other forms of biochar.)

Because bio-oil has a high density (1110-1250kg/m3) with a high heating value (HHV) of around 16-19GJ/ton, its energy density is much higher than raw biomass. This allows for a decentralised logic in which pyrolysis plants are brought to the biomass source, instead of hauling the bulky feedstock to a central facility (earlier post)

Bio-oil production can also be combined with gasification. The idea is to pyrolyse biomass close to where it can be found, and then to ship the bio-oil and char to a central gasification plant, where the syngas is transformed into liquid biofuels ('synthetic biofuels') via the Fischer-Tropsch process. Recently, a German report showed that such a strategy would result in biofuels that are competitive with current petroleum fuels (earlier post):
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ConocoPhillips earlier showed its interest converting biomass to fuel through fast pyrolysis by investing $22.5 million into a biofuels research program at Iowa State University, which aimes to develop next-generation fuels from biomass.
ConocoPhillips believes that the development of next-generation biofuels is a critical step in the diversification of our nation’s energy sources. We are hopeful that this collaboration will provide innovative technology toward the large-scale production of biofuels that can be moved efficiently and affordably through existing infrastructure. - Jim Mulva, chairman and chief executive officer
Patricia Woertz, chairman and chief executive officer, ADM, added, "as we advance our global bioenergy interests, this alliance with ConocoPhillips represents an important next step. Innovative collaboration like this will identify and bring to market feasible, economic and sustainable next-generation biofuels."

ConocoPhillips and ADM have an example to draw some experience from: Dynamotive, an existing fast-pyrolysis company, has made serious process in demonstrating the technology and is actively building the first commercial-scale plants.

Image: a sample of bio-oil. Credit: Biomass Technology Group.

Biopact: Report: synthetic biofuels (BtL) and bioenergy efficient, competitive and sustainable in Germany - September 22, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive demonstrates fast-pyrolysis plant in the presence of biofuel experts - September 18, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive and Mitsubishi Corporation sign cooperation agreement - August 02, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive plans to build 6 bio-oil plants in Argentina - April 30, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive begins construction of modular fast-pyrolysis plant in Ontario - December 19, 2006

Biopact: Biomass-to-liquids: bring the factory to the forest, not the forest to the factory - September 18, 2006

Biopact: Carbon negative biofuels: Dynamotive to test biochar to boost crop yields, water quality, and sequester carbon - May 30, 2007


Anonymous battery said...

ConocoPhillips and ADM have an example to draw some experience from: Dynamotive, an existing fast-pyrolysis company, has made serious process in demonstrating the technology and is actively building the first commercial-scale plants.

5:27 AM  

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