CO2 technology could cut cost of biofuel production by more than 50 percent


1. Sustainability Problem

Fuel and energy: ethanol produced from biomass continues to be used to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. However, the conventional pretreatment of biomass to break down cellulose is expensive and involves the use of toxic ionic liquids.

2. Technology Article Summary

Scientists harness CO2 to consolidate biofuel production process

by Sarah Yang
Published 7/21/2016 on Tech Xplore at

  • Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed improved technology for the pretreatment of plant material in biofuel production.
  • The new process involves applying carbon dioxide at up to 145 psi to optimize the pH of the ionic liquid used in pretreatment – allowing the process to produce 83% of the theoretical ethanol yield.
  • The addition of carbon dioxide is reversible, so that the ionic solvent can be easily reused without the need for the separation and regeneration steps that are currently typical. This means that pretreatment can be carried out in a single vessel, rather than the usual three.
  • The “silver shotgun” technology is projected to lower the overall costs of biofuel production by 50-65 % from conventional ionic liquid pretreatment methods.

3. Organizational Stakeholders

This technology is still in research and development, but could eventually impact the following stakeholders:

  • Biofuel producers
  • Owners of gasoline-powered vehicles
  • Department of Energy

4. Deployment

The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • JBEI researchers: adapt the technology to the production of “drop-in” advanced biofuels
  • Biofuel producers: integrate the technology into existing production plants
  • Biofuel producers: phase out expensive ionic liquid pretreatment technologies

See also:!divAbstract for the research manuscript.



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