This mobile biofuel processor looks promising

Purdue University researchers think turning biomass into biofuel on a mobile platform will make the process cheaper. But their idea still needs to be tested out in the lab before it ever begins to collect biomass.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Purdue University researchers developed a new biofuel processing center that can be built on a mobile platform. The new process could turn agricultural waste and biomass into biofuel, which would cut down the cost of transporting the biomass back to a central refinery.

By using a method called fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation, hydrogen is added to the mobile biomass-processing reactor.

Once the biomass and hydrogen go into this high-pressure reactor, it only takes seconds until it gets as hot as 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

The hydrogen and catalysts turn the biomass into a liquid fuel on the mobile platform.

It will sort of work like a garbage truck, where it takes the trash from your house and transports it to a landfill. But in this case, the mobile unit would turn the biomass into liquid biofuel before transporting it back to the main processing facility.

The researchers anticipate that it will be much cheaper to transport liquid biofuel than biomass in bulk. Furthermore, "what's important is that you can process all kinds of available biomass-- wood chips, switch grass, corn stover, rice husks, wheat straw …," chemical engineer Rakesh Agrawal, said in a statement.

Diversifying the source of biomass is a good thing, considering that more than 1 billion tons of biomass is available annually.

But for now, this patented idea will have to prove itself in the laboratory before it ever makes its way into the market.

Photo: Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue University School of Chemical Engineering

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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