New Biofuels Process Promises To Meet All US Transportation Needs

Science Daily Purdue University chemical engineers have proposed a new environmentally friendly process for producing liquid fuels from plant matter – or biomass – potentially available from agricultural and forest waste, providing all of the fuel needed for “the entire U.S. transportation sector.”

The new approach modifies conventional methods for producing liquid fuels from biomass by adding hydrogen from a “carbon-free” energy source, such as solar or nuclear power, during a step called gasification. Adding hydrogen during this step suppresses the formation of carbon dioxide and increases the efficiency of the process, making it possible to produce three times the volume of biofuels from the same quantity of biomass, said Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue’s Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The researchers are calling their approach a “hybrid hydrogen-carbon process,” or H2CAR.

“Further research is needed to make this a large-scale reality,” Agrawal said. “We could use H2CAR to provide a sustainable fuel supply to meet the needs of the entire U.S. transportation sector – all cars, trucks, trains and airplanes.”

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