A team of researchers at Purdue University found a new way to expand the biofuel industry by creating a concept for a new production process. Until today, one of the main obstacles has been the cost of transporting large quantities of heavy plant matter to centralized refineries. But thanks to the new process, this problem is now history.
According to the researchers, this process would be compact enough to pick up and go to where the biomass is, and convert it to a more efficiently transportable liquid fuel. It works by adding hydrogen to the biomass, and the current plan calls for producing hydrogen from natural gas or from biomass. Besides this, solar energy could be used to split water molecules to generate hydrogen, thus making the process more efficient and sustainable.
The compact solar powered bio-fuel processors allow the conversion of biomass to a liquid fuel on site. Then, the raw fuel could be transported with a lower carbon footprint and at far less costs to refineries.
Unlike current technologies, the hydrogen-based process is much more efficient, greatly reducing the cost of fuel production. It is also designed to work across a spectrum of non-food, woody plant matter, including switchgrass, corn stalks and wood chips.