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Biofuel from Sawdust July 24, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in Alternatives.
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ABC News is reporting on a breakthru from China to turn waste woodchips into a petroleum substitute.

They report that “Peking University (Beijing, China) scientist Yuan Kou and his team have come up with a lignin breakdown reaction that more reliably produces the alkanes and alcohols needed for biofuels. Lignin contains carbon-oxygen-carbon bonds that link together smaller hydrocarbon chains. Breaking down those C-O-C bonds is key to unlocking the smaller hydrocarbons, which can then be further treated to produce alkanes and alcohol.”

Unlike other attempts, that use bacteria to create the starting material, or simply liquify a suable hydrocarbon, Kou’s method involves heating water above 300 °C at high pressures, using a platinum-carbon catalyst and organic additives such as dioxane to create monomers and dimers in the solution.  Then the water is cooled and the fuel sources separate by themselves.

The monomers and dimers can then be refined into gasoline, diesel and methanol.

This is exciting research, but don’t count on it to solve the world fuel problem any time soon.  this process has only so far been done in the lab, in small quantities.

Source:  abc news online

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