Oct. 5, 2006 Liquid fuels can be produced economically from biomass right now even if all the raw materials - such as grasses and wood - must be imported from other countries.
Robin Zwart and colleagues in The Netherlands reach that conclusion in a study in the current (September/October) issue of the bimonthly ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
In their study, the researchers focus on the so-called biomass-to-liquids (BtL) route, one of the most promising biomass fuels options. BtL involves first converting biomass into a gas and then using a commercially available chemical process to convert the gas into liquid fuels that could power motor vehicles.
The study assumes that the final liquid fuel production facility is in the European Union, where biomass raw materials would have to be imported after pretreatment at the place of origin.
It concludes that high-quality liquid fuels could be produced from imported biomass for about $2.60 per gallon. The process would be economically feasible and capable of competing with conventional fuels, with crude oil prices of about $60 per barrel, the researchers state.
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