Unlike the old methods of producing biofuel, this new chemical process could lead to a new generation of biofuels, easy to use in conventional automobiles and easy to be transported with current infrastructure.
Until now, cellulose biofuels were difficult to convert into liquid fuels but Wisconsin researchers have managed to complete this chemical conversion in just two steps.
First, they have transformed the biomass into a chemical compound called “gamma-valerolactone” (often used in perfume and flavor industries due to its herbal odor) and then, using catalysts made of silica and alumina they obtained liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
During this chemical process, carbon dioxide can easily be captured at high pressure for underground storage. Doug Cameron, managing director and science advisor at Piper Jaffray, said that biofuel production using this method could decrease greenhouse gas levels, which is a very important issue today.
Moreover, by using this chemical process, the initial energy of biomass can be preserved almost entirely (95%). “Our product can be used to power commercial or military airplanes and can be added to existing hydrocarbon mixtures” says David Martin Alonso a member of the research team from Wisconsin.