Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic fuels research aims to reduce oil dependence

Date:
September 18, 2010
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Researchers have developed a facility aimed at learning precisely how coal and biomass are broken down in reactors called gasifiers as part of a project to strengthen the scientific foundations of the synthetic fuel economy.

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a facility aimed at learning precisely how coal and biomass are broken down in reactors called gasifiers as part of a project to strengthen the scientific foundations of the synthetic fuel economy.

"A major focus is to be able to produce a significant quantity of synthetic fuel for the U.S. air transportation system and to reduce our dependence on petroleum oil for transportation," said Jay Gore, the Reilly University Chair Professor of Combustion Engineering at Purdue.

The research is part of work to develop a system for generating large quantities of synthetic fuel from agricultural wastes, other biomass or coal that would be turned into a gas using steam and then converted into a liquid fuel.

Other aims are to learn how to generate less carbon dioxide than conventional synthetic-fuel processing methods while increasing the yield of liquid fuel by adding hydrogen into the coal-and-biomass-processing reactor, a technique pioneered by Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue's Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Researchers are using the facility to learn how coal and biomass "gasify" when exposed to steam under high pressure in order to improve the efficiency of the gasification process.

"We want to show that our system is flexible for using coal and biomass," Gore said. "The aim is to create a sustainable synthetic fuel economy. What's daunting is the size of the problem -- how much oil we need -- how much energy we need."

Findings published last year showed carbon dioxide might be reduced by 40 percent using the technique. And new findings will be detailed in a research paper being presented during a January meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Orlando.

The research is based at the university's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories.

Synthetic fuels currently are being blended with petroleum fuels for performance improvement in automobile and aircraft applications and also are used in equipment trials in commercial aircraft. However, new techniques are needed to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of making the fuels.

"At the right price, synthetic fuels could replace fossil fuels in all conceivable applications," Gore said.

The 2-meter-tall stainless steel reactor is part of a system that borrows technology from aerospace applications, including a "spark igniter" used in space shuttle engines. Materials inside the spark igniter may briefly reach temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius, or more than 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit -- hot enough to burn holes in steel.

The researchers also integrated an advanced optical diagnostics system: A laser is transmitted through a window in the stainless steel vessel, passing through the gases being processed inside. An optical sensor on the other side of the vessel decodes the light to determine the precise temperature and composition of the gases.

"It's a modular design, so the optical diagnostics part can be moved to various points to analyze how the gasification proceeds," said Robert Lucht, the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Professor of Combustion in Mechanical Engineering.

Doctoral students also designed a special feeder to transport the coal or biomass into the reactor vessel.

"One of the challenges is feeding this at high pressure -- about 10 atmospheres," Gore said. "This sort of feeder could not be bought off the shelf, so it had to be specially designed."

Gore and Lucht are working with faculty from Purdue's schools of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Chemical Engineering and other Purdue faculty members, as well as mechanical engineering doctoral students Anup Sane, Indraneel Sircar, Rohan Gejji and Brent Rankin.

Students are working on doctoral theses on the system's mechanical design, the optical diagnostics and approaches for integrating aerospace-related technologies.

The work is funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

The project also involves Li Qiao, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Emil Venere. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Synthetic fuels research aims to reduce oil dependence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100915100933.htm>.
Purdue University. (2010, September 18). Synthetic fuels research aims to reduce oil dependence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100915100933.htm
Purdue University. "Synthetic fuels research aims to reduce oil dependence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100915100933.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) 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