According to German scientists, a new simple process could produce liquid fuel for only 0.50 Euros per liter. This new study, published recently in the journal of Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining, is showing that this new technology could be used for cheap fuel production.
Researchers affiliated with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany have developed a new technology known as Bioliq, which is able to produce a variety of fuel types from vegetable materials. A plan to build a commercial operation based on this technology is set for year 2012 or beyond. But, for now, the new process is still in the development stage. Lurgi (KIT), an engineering company, plans to build soon a pilot plant based on the new Bioliq technology.
New BioLiq Process
This is how the new BioLiq process works. First, the biomass (wood, straw, etc) is heated at 500 C in an anaerobic compartment. This is a pyrolization process that is able to produce a liquid component known as biosyncrude. Afterwards, the biosyncrude is vaporized at high temperatures (1400°C) to render a mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen termed syngas. The syngas is then purified and converted to a variety of fuels including methanol, hydrogen and a synthetic liquid version of diesel (biodiesel).
The production of this cheap liquid biofuel is based on a specific model developed. It needs a set of infrastruture conditions that need to be in place. The model implies that all the operations are not a t the same location because of the high raw materials transportation costs. the economic model calls for 50 pyrolysis plants that would produce the biosyncrude and shipped to a central gasification plant. Biosyncrude will then be transported by rail, which very cost effective for transporting bulk materials over long distances. An annual production capacity of around 1 million tons is needed (a tenth of the size of a current oil plant).
The study shows that the bioliq technology could produce liquid fuels for €0.56–1.04 a liter, which is a good price to pay for a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of energy.
Dahmen et al (2009). Cost estimate for biosynfuel production via biosyncrude gasification. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. 3 (1) (February 2009)