A new process for converting municipal waste, algae, corn stalks and similar material to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is showing the same promise in larger plants as it did in laboratory-scale devices, the developers reported at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on August 20. Moving steadily toward having multiple demonstration-scale facilities in operation by 2014, with each facility producing a range of 3,500-17,500 gallons of fuel a day from non-food plant material, the process holds promise.
The technology, termed Integrated Hydropyrolysis andHydroconversion (IH2), has been developed by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI). Next will be the designing of commercial-scale facilities that could produce as much as 300,000 gallons per day from the same kinds of feedstocks. The technology involves use of internally generated hydrogen and a series of proprietary catalysts, which jump-start chemical reactions that otherwise would happen slowly or not at all.The process uses as its raw material, or "feedstock," virtually any kind of non-food biomass material -- including wood, cornstalks and cobs, algae, aquatic plants and municipal solid waste ― and produces gasoline, jet fuel or diesel fuel.
GTI is currently operating two pilot plants to test and refine the process. Both use wood, corn stalks and leaves or algae. The smaller plant has a capacity of just one pound of biomass per hour, and can produce 72-157 gallons of fuel per ton of dry, ash-free feedstock, depending on feedstock type. The second plant can handle more than 100 pounds of biomass per hour and is designed to operate continuously, like a commercial facility.With transport accounting for a major chunk of emissions, any alternative cleaner is welcome.