Biofuels: Cellulose for Bioethanol Production



In the quest for finding the appropriate biofuel for the future – which is both sustainable and cheap – it appears that researchers have found a new technology to turn cellulose into bioethanol.

Belgian researchers with the collaboration of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) Energy Research Center (EC) have developed an innovative biofuel production technology based on cellulose from corn and vegetable oils, which can be fully integrated into existing oil refining processes. The results of the study – published in the Nature Energy magazine – were published on Monday on the website of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The European Union’s goal to revise proportion of biofuel blends

This has been a very exciting and desired innovation, since according to the EU directive 98/70/EC, at least 10 percent of fuels should be of biological origin by 2020. This has been initiated after the EU showed its desire to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of fuel mix by 6% in the next two years. In order for these biofuels to achieve decreased greenhouse gas emissions, they must be produced in a sustainable way. Thus, biofuels are guided by a thorough set of criteria developed by the EU. The initiative is further consolidated with the European Committee for Standardisation aiming to improve the standard of biofuels and biofuel blends for vehicle engines.

Biofuel’s response to the biomass dilemma

The new innovation takes into account that first-generation biomass is used primarily for the production of bioethanol and biodiesel, which means that it can be consumed from edible materials such as corn and vegetable oils. The issue is, however, that first-generation biomass sources are in direct competition with food utilisation. It is therefore necessary to switch to non-edible second generation sources – such as cellulose – that are not suitable for human consumption, in order to produce alternative biofuels.

Fulfilling the desperate need for a biofuel technology

According to the article, in order to achieve the 10 percent target for biofuels by 2020, new high-volume catalytic processes are urgently needed, because as of now, no adequate technology was available for large-scale chemical transformation of cellulose. In collaboration with the Belgian researchers of the Catholic University of Leuven (Bert Sels et al.), Hungarian researchers of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Tamás Korányi and Tibor Szarvas) produced a biofuel with a new technology, and this process was directly incorporated into the operating petrochemical refinery processes.

How will bioethanol replace gasoline?

Bioethanol is a first-generation biofuel produced by fermentation which is subsequently blended with fossil-based gasoline. Researchers produced 10 percent bio-gasoline from cellulose in a two-phase (aqueous-organic) catalytic process, using crude petroleum gas as an organic phase. All in all, 11-18% of carbonaceous carbon deposits have been detected, corresponding to the 10% biofuel content requirement. It has been revealed, that the octane number of the new biofuel is still unsatisfactory as of now, so in an additional isomerization step, the octane number will be increased to 80, so the biofuel will be at the value of full-fledged gasoline. Due to the full integration of the refinery process, the method can be seamlessly integrated into existing infrastructures. In addition, it is competitive with other “primarily-lignin” technologies that use raw lignocellulos as the starting material, so not only can they convert cellulose into biofuel, but also the other two components of lignocellulose: hemicellulose and lignin.

If you want to find out more about how we contribute to biofuel production, take a look at our website: www.arundobioenergy.com

Source: https://www.autosvilag.com/h%C3%ADrek/3354-bioüzemanyag-–-már-cellulózból-is-lehetséges.html

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