George Huber, University of Massachusetts, and colleagues have found a four-step process to produce alkanes in the range of jet and diesel fuel from the biomass of wood processing and pulp mills. Sustainable production of fuels attempted before, by using non-food lignocellulosic biomass and vegetable oils, resulted in light alkanes that are not suitable for use as jet and diesel fuel due to their high volatility.
Huber’s team has taken its own previously designed method and applied it to an aqueous carbohydrate feedstock that is more representative of the waste biomass from power plants and wood manufacturing facilities than the model biomass compounds other researchers use. A hemicellulose extract from north-eastern hardwood trees was used.
The four steps of the process include:
- acid hydrolysis and xylose dehydrogenation,
- aldol condensation,
- low temperature hydrogenation, and
- high temperature hydrodeoxygenation.
76 % of the theoretical yield was obtained. An economic analysis estimated the cost of production using this process would be between 2.06 and 4.39 $/gal, depending on initial xylose concentration, refinery size, and overall yield.
- Production of jet and diesel fuel range alkanes from waste hemicellulose-derived aqueous solutions,
Rong Xing, Ayyagari V. Subrahmanyam, Hakan Olcay, Wei Qi, G. Peter van Walsum, Hemant Pendseb, George W. Huber,
Green Chem. 2010,