Researchers find way to turn sawdust into gasoline

November 25, 2014
“Essentially, the method allows us to make a ‘petrochemical’ product using biomass – thus bridging the worlds of bio-economics and petro chemistry,” says co-author Dr. Bert Lagrain.

Researchers at KU Leuven's Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis have successfully converted sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. Using a new chemical process, they were able to convert the cellulose in sawdust into hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline, or as a component in plastics. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Cellulose is the main substance in plant matter and is present in all non-edible plant parts of wood, straw, grass, cotton and old paper. "At the molecular level, cellulose contains strong carbon chains. We sought to conserve these chains, but drop the oxygen bonded to them, which is undesirable in high-grade gasoline. Our researcher Beau Op de Beeck developed a new method to derive these hydrocarbon chains from cellulose," explains Professor Bert Sels.

"This is a new type of bio-refining, and we currently have a patent pending for it. We have also built a chemical reactor in our lab: we feed collected from a sawmill into the reactor and add a catalyst - a substance that sets off and speeds the chemical reaction. With the right temperature and pressure, it takes about half a day to convert the cellulose in the wood shavings into saturated hydrocarbon chains, or alkanes," says Dr. Bert Lagrain.

"Essentially, the method allows us to make a 'petrochemical' product using biomass - thus bridging the worlds of bio-economics and petro chemistry," he adds.

The result is an intermediary product that requires one last simple step to become fully-distilled gasoline, explains Sels. "Our product offers an intermediate solution for as long as our automobiles run on liquid gasoline. It can be used as a green additive - a replacement for a portion of traditionally-refined gasoline."

But the possible applications go beyond : "The green hydrocarbon can also be used in the production of ethylene, propylene and benzene - the for plastic, rubber, insulation foam, nylon, coatings and so forth."

"From an economic standpoint, cellulose has much potential," says Sels. "Cellulose is available everywhere; it is essentially plant waste, meaning it does not compete with food crops in the way that first generation energy crops - crops grown for bioethanol, for example - do. It also produces chains of 5 to 6 hydrocarbon atoms - 'light nafta' in the technical jargon. We are currently facing shortages in this because it is becoming quite difficult and more expensive to distil these specific from crude oil or shale gas. In time, hydrocarbon derived from may provide an alternative," says Sels.

"Our method could be especially useful in Europe, where we have little crude oil and cannot easily produce shale gas," concluded Sels.

Explore further: New versatile process efficiently converts biomass to liquid fuel

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Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2014
How is this different from existing processes? The Finns are already using the F&T-process to produce diesel out of wood chips.

"Our method could be especially useful in Europe, where we have little crude oil and cannot easily produce shale gas," concluded Sels.


There's plenty of shale gas in Europe. At least enough to cover almost all the natural gas that European countries are importing right now. The problem is that Gasprom (Russia) keeps funding lobbyists for pushing laws that ban its extraction under the auspices of environmentalism, and is succeeding at least in Germany and France.

There's huge shale fields under east Ukraine as well, which would more than guarantee energy independence for Ukraine if they were tapped for their full potential. Guess why Putin keeps poking the anthill right there, right now?

kochevnik
1 / 5 (2) Nov 25, 2014
Eikka you can keep repeating your lies and I'm sure since you're backed by the Rockafellers you have a nuclear-powered echo chamber which reassures your brain that you are speaking facts. Well the facts are that Ukraine had cheap, subsidized gas under Soviet deal but Timoshenko under USA bribes canceled the deal, pocketed the money and fucked Ukraine. Since then your USA spent $10billion igniting war and conflict of Ukraine overthrowing Yankovic and installing your puppet Poroshenko and your NAZI friends.

Yet still Putin does not give a damn nor do the 150million of Russia because we now have $trillion pipe deal with China to supply their gas, and there is not enough for Europe! So poor Europe screwed themselves by listening to your Obamanation. As for Ukraine they are part of Russia and while they will always take cash like a crack addict they are our blood and they know your suck, but they're very polite to your face. So keep funding your whores and keep thinking it's 1945
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2014
Since then your USA spent $10billion igniting war and conflict of Ukraine overthrowing Yankovic and installing your puppet Poroshenko and your NAZI friends.


It seems you're not getting paid enough by Putin's propaganda brigade to spell the name of the real puppet, Yanukovych (Януко́вич), correctly.
Eikka
4 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2014
See map for European shale gas resources: http://www.bilate...ance.png

All over Europe, fracking is either banned, campaigned against, or in the case or Ukraine - under the threat of Russian-controlled militia that prevents international companies from moving in.

because we now have $trillion pipe deal with China to supply their gas


So far you have only a non-binding memorandum.

Russia's gas production is tied with the oil production, which is why the gas prices are tied to the oil prices. If you can't sell the oil, you can't produce the gas, and the drop in oil prices internationally is threatening Russia's ability to both sell and supply gas to China.

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