ECN publication
Advanced liquid biofuels synthesis
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Biomass & Energy Efficiency 6-10-2017
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--17-057 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
90 Download PDF  

Transportion accounts for about a third of the world’s energy use, half of the global oil consumption and a fifth of total GHG emissions. Increasing concerns over global climate change, depletion of fossil fuel resources and demand for transportation fuels have strongly influenced research efforts and funding programs in development and deployment of advanced biofuels. Syngas obtained from the gasification of biomass could be used as reactant in the thermochemical production of advanced (second generation) biofuels. The most relevant liquid fuels include drop-in diesel obtained through catalytic Fischer-Tropsch synthesis at an estimated 25-39 €2017/GJ at a medium to large production scale of >200 MW. MeOH and/or DME can be obtained at a much lower production cost of 20-25 €2017/GJ, over a Cu-catalysed system, combined with an acid catalyst for the MeOH dehydration to DME. Drop-in gasoline can be obtained indirectly from DME/methanol, via the so-called methanol to gasoline (MTG) process, at approximately 22-33 €2017/GJ. MeOH production seems most interesting as it could be produced at low cost and relatively high overall efficiency (~60%). If desired, MeOH can be converted into DME or drop-in gasoline (via the MTG process) and it has market value as an industrially relevant platform molecule. Most liquid synthsis processes through syngas conversion are well established and have a high technological readiness level, however, the production of syngas through biomass gasification and gas cleaning are not. Low fossil fuel and high (woody) biomass prices inhibit commercialization of these processes. Along with technological innovation, more strict policies (higher CO2 taxation) and stimulation through subsidies are needed to ensure that biomass to liquid plants will succeed.

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