Agrawal, Ribeiro and Delgass are developing reactors and catalysts to experimentally demonstrate the concept. Another paper by Agrawal and Singh addressing various biofuels processes, including fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation, also appeared in June in the Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. This paper can be accessed online at http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/eprint/gmGjKYuY7iQexh8Dd7XT/full/10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-073009-100955
The Environmental Science & Technology paper outlines the process, showing how a portion of the biomass is used as a source of hydrogen to convert the remaining biomass to liquid fuel.
"Another major thrust of this research is to provide guidelines on the potential liquid-fuel yield from various self-contained processes and augmented processes, where part of the energy comes from non-biomass sources such as solar energy and fossil fuel such as natural gas," said Singh, who is now a researcher working at Bayer CropScience.
The new method would produce about twice as much biofuel as current technologies when hydrogen is derived from natural gas and 1.5 times the liquid fuel when hydrogen is derived from a portion of the biomass itself.
Biomass along with hydrogen will be fed into a high-pressure reactor and subjected to extremely fast heating, rising to as hot as 500 degrees Celsius, or more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit in less than a second. The hydrogen containing gas is to be produced by "reforming" natural gas, with the hot exhaust directly fed into the biomass reactor.
"The biomass will break down into smaller molecules in the presence of hot hydrogen and suitable catalysts," Agrawal said. "The
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