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Biomass and coal derived biofuels set for new research

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to work with the Southern Research Institute to test a method of creating liquid transportation fuels from coal and biomass.

The pair believes an approach, that eliminates the typical Fischer-Tropsch (FT) product upgrading and refining steps, will enhance the ability of coal-to-liquid (CTL) and coal-biomass-to-liquid (CBTL) processes to compete with petroleum-based ones.

‘We hope the project will advance CTL and CBTL processes by demonstrating a cost-effective, novel FT catalyst that selectively converts syngas derived from the gasification of coal and coal-biomass mixtures predominantly to gasoline and diesel range hydrocarbons, thereby eliminating expensive upgrading operations,’ Southern Research principal investigator Santosh Gangwal was quoted as saying.

‘We will evaluate the impact of adding moderate amounts of biomass to coal on CBTL products and process economics, and compare the carbon footprint of CBTL processes with petroleum-based fuel production processes.’

The Southern Research team includes research partners from Southern Company Services and clean energy provider Nexant. An existing demonstration-scale coal gasifier at the DOE’s National Carbon Capture Centre in Alabama is set to be used during the project.