Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Energy-dense biofuel from cellulose close to being economical

Date:
June 4, 2012
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
A new process for creating biofuels has shown potential to be cost-effective for production scale, opening the door for moving beyond the laboratory setting.

A new Purdue University-developed process for creating biofuels has shown potential to be cost-effective for production scale, opening the door for moving beyond the laboratory setting.

A Purdue economic analysis shows that the cost of the thermo-chemical H2Bioil method is competitive when crude oil is about $100 per barrel when using certain energy methods to create hydrogen needed for the process. If a federal carbon tax were implemented, the biofuel would become even more economical.

H2Bioil is created when biomass, such as switchgrass or corn stover, is heated rapidly to about 500 degrees Celcius in the presence of pressurized hydrogen. Resulting gases are passed over catalysts, causing reactions that separate oxygen from carbon molecules, making the carbon molecules high in energy content, similar to gasoline molecules.

The conversion process was created in the lab of Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue's Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering. He said H2Bioil has significant advantages over traditional standalone methods used to create fuels from biomass.

"The process is quite fast and converts entire biomass to liquid fuel," Agrawal said. "As a result, the yields are substantially higher. Once the process is fully developed, due to the use of external hydrogen, the yield is expected to be two to three times that of the current competing technologies."

The economic analysis, published in the June issue of Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery, shows that the energy source used to create hydrogen for the process makes all the difference when determining whether the biofuel is cost-effective. Hydrogen processed using natural gas or coal makes the H2Bioil cost-effective when crude oil is just over $100 per barrel. But hydrogen derived from other, more expensive, energy sources -- nuclear, wind or solar -- drive up the break-even point.

"We're in the ballpark," said Wally Tyner, Purdue's James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics. "In the past, I have said that for biofuels to be competitive, crude prices would need to be at about $120 per barrel. This process looks like it could be competitive when crude is even a little cheaper than that."

Agrawal said he and colleagues Fabio Ribeiro, a Purdue professor of chemical engineering, and Nick Delgass, Purdue's Maxine Spencer Nichols Professor of Chemical Engineering, are working to develop catalysts needed for the H2Bioil conversion processes. The method's initial implementation has worked on a laboratory scale and is being refined so it would become effective on a commercial scale.

"This economic analysis shows us that the process is viable on a commercial scale," Agrawal said. "We can now go back to the lab and focus on refining and improving the process with confidence."

The model Tyner used assumed that corn stover, switchgrass and miscanthus would be the primary feedstocks. The analysis also found that if a federal carbon tax were introduced, driving up the cost of coal and natural gas, more expensive methods for producing hydrogen would become competitive.

"If we had a carbon tax in the future, the break-even prices would be competitive even for nuclear," Tyner said. "Wind and solar, not yet, but maybe down the road."

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research funded the research. Agrawal and his collaborators received a U.S. patent for the conversion process.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Navneet R. Singh, Dharik S. Mallapragada, Rakesh Agrawal, Wallace E. Tyner. Economic analysis of novel synergistic biofuel (H2Bioil) processes. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery, 2012; 2 (2): 141 DOI: 10.1007/s13399-012-0043-5

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Energy-dense biofuel from cellulose close to being economical." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181954.htm>.
Purdue University. (2012, June 4). Energy-dense biofuel from cellulose close to being economical. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181954.htm
Purdue University. "Energy-dense biofuel from cellulose close to being economical." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181954.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) 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