Developed by scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), this novel technology is known as bioliq, and is able to produce a range of different types of liquid fuel and chemicals from plant material such as wood and straw.
Bioliq involves first heating the plant material in the absence of air to around 500°C, a process known as pyrolysis. This produces a thick oily liquid containing solid particles of coke termed biosyncrude.
The biosyncrude is then vaporised by exposing it to a stream of oxygen gas, before being heated at high pressures to a temperature of around 1400°C. Known as gasification, this process transforms the liquid biosyncrude into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen termed syngas.
After any impurities are removed from this syngas, it can be catalytically converted into a range of different chemicals and fuels, including methanol, hydrogen and a synthetic version of diesel. This stage of the technology is fairly well developed, as syngas derived from coal and natural gas is already used to produce liquid fuels on a commercial scale in South Africa.
Bioliq is now taking its first steps towards commercialisation. In conjunction with the German process engineering company Lurgi, KIT is starting to construct a pilot plant based on the bioliq technology, which should be fully completed in 2012. Providing the technology works at this scale, the question then will be how best to implement bioliq at a larger scale, so that it can effectively compete with fossil fuels.
To try to come up with an answer, a team of KIT scientists led by Nicolaus Dahmen has used a simple economic model to calculate the cost of producing fuel at a bioliq plant with an annual production capacity of around 1 million tonnes. This is around a tenth of the size of a modern oil refinery, but is a similar size to refineries that produce liquid fuel from oil and gas.
Dahmen and his colleagues quickly realised that incorporating both the pyrolysis and gasification steps at this central plant wouldn’t work, because of the problems and expense involved in transporting sufficient quantities of bulky straw and wood to the plant. They estimated that if sufficient plant material was transported on trucks, it would quickly bring the road network around the plant to a halt.
So they came up with an alternative set-up. “Biomass is pre-treated in around 50 regionally distributed pyrolysis plants to produce the biosyncrude,” explains Dahmen. “This can then be transported economically over long distances to supply a central fuel production plant with a high capacity.”
The advantage of this set-up is that it is much cheaper and more convenient to transport liquid biosyncrude than bulky wood and straw. This is especially the case if the biosyncrude is transported by rail, which is the most cost effective way to transport material over long distances.
So Dahmen and his colleagues produced an economic model based on this set-up, which suggests that the bioliq technology can potentially produce liquid fuels for €0.56–1.04 a litre. This would still make the fuel more expensive than conventional petrol or diesel, but this difference could be greatly reduced if different levels of tax were applied to the fuels.
Jennifer Beal | alfa
Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State
How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering