There are various biofuel manufacturing trends that you should know. First, it is worth mentioning that biofuel defines gaseous and liquid fuels generated from biomass. Let us discuss some of the biofuel manufacturing trends you should be on the lookout for.
Biofuel Feedstock Constraints
First-generation biofuel manufacturing processes that rely on food crops like sugar beet, grains, and oilseeds can hardly meet oil product substitution targets. Further, they are non-viable when it comes to economic growth and mitigating climate change.
Experts are reviewing their sustainable production and the potential of creating extreme competition for water and land used for fiber and food production. As a result of these concerns, more players are opting to try biofuel manufacturing from non-food biomass.
Raw materials from lignocellulosic materials include bagasse, forest residues, and cereal straw. They also feature purpose-grown produce like short-rotation forests and vegetative grass. These second-generation biofuels can prevent many challenges that their first-generation counterparts are facing. Further, they can be a longterm cost reduction strategy.
Cellulosic Biomass Biofuel Manufacturing
Cellulosic ethanol technology is among the most discussed second-generation biofuel manufacturing technologies across the world. Cellulosic biofuels come from the cellulose available in plants. Some of these cellulosic biofuels are developed as energy crops. These biomass products include trees and perennial grasses such as Miscanthus and switchgrass.
Crop residues like leaves and stems can be a source of cellulosic biomass. There are two steps involved when converting ethanol from cellulose. Saccharification is the first step. Here, hemicellulose and cellulose chunks of the biomass have to be broken down to form sugars. However, the sugars are a complex combination of six and five-carbon sugars that make full fermentation to ethanol a challenge.
In the second step, these sugars have to be fermented to generate ethanol. The first step is usually a challenge. Various thermal, biological, and chemical processes help facilitate the saccharification step efficiently and at reasonable costs.
Some research organizations are looking at combinations of chemical, thermal, and biological saccharification processes to create the most economical and efficient strategy. These organizations opine that such an approach would facilitate the commercial manufacturing of cellulosic ethanol. Some governments are already supporting such programs, especially in Canada and the USA.
With the innovation of new tools in the biotechnology field, researchers have managed to produce various new strains of bacteria and yeast. These raw materials will display different ability levels to change the full range of sugars available in ethanol.
Technical hitches linked to the separation of cellulose from lignin have hindered the innovation of cellulosic ethanol technology and the transformation of cellulose to sugars. Continued research on developing efficient extraction, separation, and conversion approaches is critical to boosting ethanol production.
This raw material includes various components like agricultural residues, short-rotation woody crops, herbaceous crops, waste paper, and forestry residues. Bioethanol production from these raw materials may be a great alternative to disposing of the residues.
Lignocellulosic raw materials do not hinder food security. Further, bioethanol is critical in urban and rural areas when it comes to energy security, employment opportunities, agricultural development, and socioeconomic issues. You can complete the biofuel manufacturing process from lignocellulosic raw materials via two different processing strategies, as seen below.
· Thermo-chemical Biofuel Manufacturing
Here, gasification or pyrolysis technologies generate a combination of gas. From these gases, different long carbon chain biofuels like aviation fuel or synthetic diesel can be improved.
Here, various microorganisms convert hemicellulose and cellulose components of the raw materials to sugars before the fermentation process to produce ethanol. Lignocellulosic processing plants are already operational in different countries. The biggest demonstration plant of lignocellulose ethanol has a capacity of 2.5 million liters and is in Ottawa, Canada.
The production of biofuels from biomass offers unique economic and environmental strategic benefits. They are a clean and safe fuel alternative to fossil fuels. There has been significant progress in various areas of lignocellulosic biomass and cellulosic conversion to ethanol. Developments in industrial biotechnology are critical for advanced biofuel manufacturing procedures.