Navigation Links
Coal and black liquor can produce energy from papermaking

Adding a little coal and processing the papermaking industry's black liquor waste into synthesis gas is a better choice than burning it for heat, improves the carbon footprint of coal-to-liquid processes, and can produce a fuel versatile enough to run a cooking stove or a truck, according to a team of Penn state engineers.

"Black liquor is routinely burned in a recovery boiler," says Andre Boehman, professor of fuel science. "But it has more energy value as a synthesis gas which is then used to create other fuels."

Black liquor is a combination of lignin from the wood, the chemicals used in papermaking and water. Normally, after burning, mills extract the inorganic chemicals and recycle them. Synthesis gas or syngas can be made from a variety of organic wastes and is a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The final product looked at by the researchers is DME or dimethyl ether.

"DME could be used as a fuel for cooking in the U.S. and Japan," says Boehman. "DME has recently grown in both production and use and is replacing coal for home heating and cooking in China."

DME is building new markets in both heat producing fuel applications and transportation. In Japan and China, some demonstration diesel trucks and buses already run on DME. Volvo has a third generation experimental truck that runs on DME and other companies are also testing vehicles.

"Penn State actually had the first transit vehicle use of DME," says Boehman, who is also treasurer of the International DME Association, a nonprofit advocacy group. "A Penn State Staff Shuttle was fitted to run on the fuel and ferried faculty and staff around campus in 2002."

Graduate students carried out the research on co-processing of coal and biomass, during a class, Design Engineering for Energy and Geo-Environmental Systems, and Boehman reported the results at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, today (Aug. 20), in Boston. The students looked at the efficiency of using black liquor as the feedstock for manufacturing synthesis gas and then DME, and realized that they needed the economy of scale for the process to be really efficient and economical. The capacity of paper mills for fuel production could be expanded by co-processing coal with the black liquor.

A potential approach is to combine the black liquor with a coal slurry and process that. Paper mill processes then treated this mixture with steam and only a little oxygen to convert the organic compounds into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These products traditionally have then been used in the Fischer Tropsch method to produce a mixed petroleum-like product that must be further refined before use. The students suggest the DME process because it is less energy intensive and produces a targeted product, DME, and while DME is a specialty fuel, its use is increasing worldwide.

Looking at a comparison of energy efficiency, the students found that gasoline and diesel fuel have the lowest energy cost to produce, but DME is not that far away in efficiency. DME is also much cleaner burning than either gasoline or diesel.

Converting black liquor and coal into DME also releases less carbon as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than if coal alone was used to produce the fuel. Some of the carbon from these sources remains sequestered in solid form and do not add to global warming.

"Another reason we may want to co-process coal with black liquor is to stretch our coal reserve," says Boehman. "We have always known that coal reserves are finite, but now it appears we will not be able to mine all the available coal there is due to environmental concerns."


Contact: Andrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

Related biology news :

1. Scientists identify genes responsible for black rot disease in vegetables
2. Uncovering sex-change secrets of black sea bass
3. Climate change creates dramatic decline in red-winged black bird population
4. Cracking open the black box of autoimmune disease
5. MU researchers to study the status of black bears in Missouri
6. Liquorice cancer care
7. Inexpensive, mass-produced genes core of synthetic biology advances at UH
8. Researchers devise way to mass-produce embryonic stem cells
9. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
10. Anammox bacteria produce nitrogen gas in oceans snackbar
11. Proteomics brings researchers closer to understanding microbes that produce acid mine drainage
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/16/2015)... 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), ... announced expansion of its TDDI product portfolio with ... and display driver integration (TDDI) solutions designed to ... TDDI products add to the previously-announced TD4300 ... resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) solutions. All four ...
(Date:11/11/2015)... 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... is pleased to announce that it will be a Sponsor ... event, to be held November 17-19 in Hamburg ... demonstrations of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven ... has been able to deliver time and cost savings ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the ... vehicle-specific solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics ... and biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry ... vehicle. Europe , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... Market 2016 - 2020 report analyzes that automating ... and quality in long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, ... Automation minimizes manual errors such as mislabeling or ... Further, it plays a vital role in blood ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 Harvard ... biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening conditions, ... present at the LD Micro "Main Event" investor conference ... The presentation will be webcast live and posted for ... be available at the conference for one-on-one meetings on ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, ... .  A replay will be available for 14 days ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today ... Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an ... turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass ...
Breaking Biology Technology: