Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemical Process Provides New Source For Alternative Fuels

Date:
October 30, 1998
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
A catalytic process developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will create a compound used in a new type of alternative fuel while broadening the applications of a chemical used in commercial processes.

RICHLAND, Wash. - A catalytic process developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will create a compound used in a new type of alternative fuel while broadening the applications of a chemical used in commercial processes. Scientists at Pacific Northwest have created the first-ever multi-step catalytic process that converts levulinic acid, a compound derived from waste cellulosic materials, into an alternative fuel component called methyltetrahydrofuran, or MTHF. MTHF would be used with ethanol and pentanes from natural gas liquids as the P-series alternative fuel under a recent DOE proposal. The proposal seeks to meet Energy Policy Act mandates for agencies with a fleet of cars and trucks.

Related Articles


"Our system incorporates multiple chemical reaction steps into one process and creates greater yields than previously available," said Doug C. Elliott, principal investigator and staff scientist with Pacific Northwest's chemical process development group. "It represents a new ability to use levulinic acid in creating environmentally friendly products."

This catalytic process possesses high yield capacity, which means less waste and fewer byproducts. Lab tests indicate an 83 percent yield on a theoretical (molar) basis, equivalent to a yield of nearly 110 gallons of MTHF for every 100 gallons of levulinic acid. On a weight basis, the yield is 63 pounds of MTHF for every 100 pounds of levulinic acid.

DOE has funded the research with about $185,000 over the last two years. An additional $40,000 has been provided by research partners Biofine Inc., of Waltham, Mass., and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The project is one of several in the alternative feedstock research area that is being pursued through Pacific Northwest's Agriculture and Food Processing Initiative. Pacific Northwest uses levulinic acid produced by Biofine. Levulinic acid is a platform chemical that can be converted into a variety of commercial chemicals, such as solvents and pesticides.

The catalytic process developed by Pacific Northwest is conducted at elevated temperatures and pressures inside a catalytic, continuous flow reactor. Levulinic acid is pumped into a tube, where it is warmed to a range of 40 degrees Celsius then mixed with hydrogen. Both compounds then are mixed together with a catalyst in the reactor. A series of chemical reactions takes place, including multiple hydrogenations (three moles of hydrogen per mole of levulinic acid) and two dehydration reaction steps, to create MTHF.

"Industry has not pursued these conversions of levulinic acid previously because of its high cost," Elliott said.

However, Biofine has created a patented process that produces levulinic acid at low cost by breaking down cellulosic waste, such as paper mill sludge or municipal solid waste. This development makes it affordable for industry to seek new uses of levulinic acid, such as the MTHF application.

Pacific Northwest's project is part of a larger DOE program to create value-added, environmentally friendly products. DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have paid Biofine $5 million to construct and operate a full-scale demonstration plant for its new levulinic acid process. DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden, Colo., and Chemical Industry Services Inc. of West Lafayette, Ind., also are working with Biofine on alternative uses of levulinic acid.

Pacific Northwest is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national laboratories and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy, health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated Pacific Northwest for DOE since 1965.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Chemical Process Provides New Source For Alternative Fuels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981030081400.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (1998, October 30). Chemical Process Provides New Source For Alternative Fuels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981030081400.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Chemical Process Provides New Source For Alternative Fuels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981030081400.htm (accessed March 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Amazon Complains U.S. Is Too Slow To Regulate Drones

Amazon Complains U.S. Is Too Slow To Regulate Drones

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) Days after getting approval to test certain commercial drones, Amazon says the Federal Aviation Administration is dragging its feet on the matter. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Wants to Export Its Steel Problem

China Wants to Export Its Steel Problem

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) China is facing a crisis with a glut of steel and growing public anger over the pollution created by production. In a move to solve the problem, some steel mills are looking to relocate overseas. Jane Lanhee Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Stays on Its Feet Despite Punishment

Robot Stays on Its Feet Despite Punishment

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 24, 2015) Robotic engineers have modelled a two-legged robot to be fast and agile like an ostrich. The design is more efficient and stable than bipedal robots built to move like humans, according to its creators who abuse the poor machine to test its skills. Ben Gruber has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins