Sunday, February 13, 2011

Biomass to Gasoline at Costs of $1.95 / Gallon?


The US DOE National Renewable Energy Lab is reporting that a biomass-to-gasoline process utilising gasification with methanol as an intermediate, could be as economical as current bio-ethanol production.
A new report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concludes that gasoline produced via the methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) route (earlier post) using syngas from a 2,000 dry metric tonne/day (2,205 US ton/day) biomass-fed facility could have a plant gate price (PGP) of $1.95/gallon US ($0.52/liter).

This is a gallon ethanol equivalent on an energy basis (gee) price of $1.39/gallon ($0.37/liter). (Gasoline has a higher energy content than ethanol.) In comparison, based on analysis work completed at NREL, the predicted PGP for ethanol produced via the thermochemical and biochemical pathways are $1.57 per gallon ($0.41 per liter) and $1.49 per gallon ($0.39 per liter), respectively.

...the results from this preliminary evaluation indicate great potential for producing gasoline from biomass via thermochemical biomass conversion to syngas and the MTG process, and thus warrant a more detailed study. Future work areas of interest include obtaining better process information on the MTG section of the plant, especially equipment and operating costs; increasing the heat integration throughout the process; scale-up of the MTG fluidized bed reactor; testing the MTG reactor and catalyst with methanol from biomass-derived syngas; testing of the MTG fluidized bed reactor at higher pressure; and evaluating the possibility of selling raw MTG gasoline and refining it in an existing refinery.

—Phillips et al.
_More at GCC with links

The reason that Al Fin Energy puts so much focus on liquid biofuels, is because renewable liquid fuels will eventually place a price ceiling on petroleum fuels. Biomass to liquids (BTL) is a renewable process which can continue as long as the sun shines and biomass is produced. The greatest threat to BTLs is a new ice age. The greatest promise for BTLs is a warming climate, with higher temperatures and CO2 levels.

It is important for forward looking individuals to understand how much profit to expect from investments in expensive fossil fuel ventures, before a dropping price ceiling makes them unprofitable. Peak oil doomer nonsense -- and associated expectations of eternal profits from petroleum and fossil fuels -- will only break your bank.

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