Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More Flexible Method Floated To Produce Biofuels, Electricity

Date:
October 15, 2008
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Researchers are proposing a new "flexible" approach to producing alternative fuels, hydrogen and electricity from municipal solid wastes, agricultural wastes, forest residues and sewage sludge that could supply up to 20 percent of transportation fuels in the United States annually.

Researchers are proposing a new "flexible" approach to producing alternative fuels, hydrogen and electricity from municipal solid wastes, agricultural wastes, forest residues and sewage sludge that could supply up to 20 percent of transportation fuels in the United States annually.

The method offers a potential solution to problems that might be created by increasing production of ethanol with conventional methods, which use corn grain as a feedstock. Boosting ethanol production with conventional methods would require additional crops and heavy fertilizer use, increasing runoff into waterways and threatening ecosystems.

The new concept, however, which Purdue researchers call a flexible carbon-to-liquid fuel process, would require no additional crops and use primarily wastes as the feedstock, said Fu Zhao, a Purdue assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

"This technique is more flexible than conventional methods because we can process a wider range of very different feedstocks and, at the same time, we can generate a wider range of end products - not just gasoline and diesel but ethanol and hydrogen. Or we could generate electricity directly from the gas produced," he said.

The method also would be immune to the market fluctuations of corn and other crops and less affected by disturbances such as feedstock supply shocks and market demand changes. The method also could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent compared with petroleum-derived gasoline.

Findings were detailed in a paper presented on Sept. 29 during the 6th Global Conference on Sustainable Product Development and Life Cycle Engineering in Busan, Korea. The preliminary analysis was written by Zhao; Purdue doctoral student Dongyan Mu; P. Suresh Rao, the Lee A. Rieth Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and Agronomy; and Thomas Seager, an associate professor in the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The system first requires processing carbon-containing waste, such as paper, wood, plastic and rubber, into small pieces with a diameter of a few millimeters, or thousandths of a meter. The pieces would then be fed into a "gasifier," where the materials would be turned into a gas containing hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane and other hydrocarbons.

This gas would be further processed to get rid of everything but the hydrogen and carbon monoxide, referred to as synthesis gas or syngas. This gas could then be used to directly run a turbine to generate electricity, or it could be converted into gasoline and diesel fuel for transportation using a process called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. The technique could be used to produce ethanol, jet fuel and other biofuels from the solid wastes.

Data indicate enough wastes are generated to support large production facilities using the system. A report prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy found that an estimated 1.3 billion tons of biomass - including agricultural and municipal wastes - are generated annually in the United States. Coal could be used to supplement the waste feedstocks if needed, Zhao said.

The analysis suggests that it is possible to replace 15 percent to 20 percent of transportation fuels consumed daily in the United States with liquids derived from this flexible process. These estimates are based on the present consumption level, which is about 390 million gallons per day, he said.

The researchers estimate the method would be economically competitive with petroleum-based fuels and plan to develop "an integrated process simulation model" to test the technique with a variety of feedstocks, including waste plastics. Raw data for the model will be generated with an experimental gasifier being built at Purdue.

The research has been supported by the Energy Center and the Center for the Environment, both in Purdue's Discovery Park. The work also is supported by the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Civil Engineering.

The paper is entitled, "Technical, Economic, and Environmental Feasibility of Flexible Carbon to Liquid Process: A Preliminary Analysis."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "More Flexible Method Floated To Produce Biofuels, Electricity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014145906.htm>.
Purdue University. (2008, October 15). More Flexible Method Floated To Produce Biofuels, Electricity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014145906.htm
Purdue University. "More Flexible Method Floated To Produce Biofuels, Electricity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014145906.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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