Scientists improve biomass-to-fuel process

May 01, 2013
Los Alamos research better converts energy from fields into fuel tanks.

(Phys.org) —Los Alamos scientists published an article in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry that could offer a big step on the path to renewable energy.

One of the more promising roads to leads away from crude oil and into the forests and fields. For years, scientists have been seeking efficient means to convert non-food based biomass into fuels and , reducing fossil-fuel dependence and reducing . To that end, Los Alamos scientists and collaborators from The University of Guelph in Canada published an article in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry in late April that could offer a big step on the path to renewable energy.

The April journal article, "The hydrodeoxygenation of bioderived furans into alkanes," describes how to take building blocks that are derived from glucose or cellulose (a carbohydrate that is a constituent of and the most common organic compound on Earth) and couple them with other bio-derived building blocks to give new molecules that have between eight and fifteen carbons in a row. The researchers then convert these molecules into hydrocarbons that are similar to those found in gasoline and diesel, enabling an opportunity to synthesize drop-in fuel replacements or such as polymers, pharmaceuticals and pesticides from biomass.

This work describes a completely new approach, an alternative route to convert this class of molecules to hydrocarbons that uses much less energy and has a very high degree of conversion to provide pure products. This very general method allows researchers to generate a range of alkanes from a variety of biomass-derived molecules. The team is looking to improve catalyst recyclability and scale-up methods.

Explore further: New, more versatile version of Geckskin: Gecko-like adhesives now useful for real world surfaces

More information: www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v5/n5/full/nchem.1609.html

Related Stories

New process speeds conversion of biomass to fuels

Feb 08, 2013

(Phys.org)—Scientists made a major step forward recently towards transforming biomass-derived molecules into fuels. The team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers elucidated the chemical mechanism ...

'Green' gasoline on the horizon?

Jan 13, 2009

University of Oklahoma researchers believe newer, more environmentally friendly fuels produced from biomass could create alternative energy solutions and alleviate dependence on foreign oil without requiring changes to current ...

Two-step chemical process turns raw biomass into biofuel

Feb 10, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Taking a chemical approach, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a two-step method to convert the cellulose in raw biomass into a promising biofuel. The process, which is described ...

Biomass as a source of raw materials

May 12, 2009

For the protection of the environment, and because of the limited amount of fossil fuels available, renewable resources, such as specially cultivated plants, wood scraps, and other plant waste, are becoming the focus of considerable ...

Recommended for you

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

Apr 16, 2014

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...