The non-food derived feedstocks used to produce the biofuels will vary from fast-growing poplar or pine trees to switch grass, forest and agriculture residue and municipal solid waste. It will not include anything that is actually food for humans.
The vapor produced from the pyrolysis of biomass can be used to make transportation fuel, if industry can efficiently convert it into the hydrocarbons similar to petroleum-based fuels used in modern engines.
Pyrolysis involves thermally decomposing organic materials using heat and pressure in the absence of oxygen. Although the pyrolysis vapors contain carbon that can be condensed into an oil, impurities in that condensed oil make it not suitable to be used in an engine or even readily converted into a fuel. This CRADA will develop catalytic materials that can convert these vapors into liquid fuels that can be use in cars, trucks, train engines and jets.
"The best outcome would be, in five years, to have a new catalytic process which can make gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel at a price range that is better than, or competitive with, the cost of existing fuels," Nimlos said.
If that happens, industry would face less risk in getting the financing necessary to scale up biofuels technologies, and the industry will move closer to producing hydrocarbon fuels from biomass for about $3 per gallon, which is a 2017 DOE goal.
Nimlos said the agreement means the two teams of experts will work together from the very beginning, when the experimental and testing scale is smallest. "We'll scale up the equipment, while Johnson Matthey develops and scales up the catalysts," he said. "By working together and sharing our expertise, we'll make a lot more progress."
Bolin agreed: "Together, we can make bigger and better strides."
|Contact: David Glickson|
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory