Biofuel production process from Purdue University hailed as promising breakthrough

Biofuel production process from Purdue University hailed as promising breakthrough

June 17, 2012 0 By Alicia Moore
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H2Boil method used to produce biofuel through use of biomass materials and hydrogen gas

Researchers from Purdue University have developed a new process for creating biofuels. The process have shown promise in making affordable, production scale biofuels available to a wide range of consumers, which could make this form of energy a viable competition with fossil-fuels. The process is known currently as the H2Boil method, which utilizes pressurized hydrogen gas, high temperatures, and biomass materials such as switchgrass and corn stover. According to economic analysis conducted by the university, the H2Boil method may help make biofuel competitive with oil.

Method may be an effective means to produce new fuel

Using the H2Boil method, researchers heat biomass materials to 500 degrees Celsius in the presence of pressurized hydrogen gas. The gases that are produced through this process are then passed over a catalyst. The catalyst sparks chemical reactions which separate oxygen molecules from carbon molecules. This effect leaves the carbon molecules with high energy content, similar to the state of gasoline molecules. Researchers believe that this method of creating biofuel is much more effective than other standalone methods that also make use of biomass materials.

Analysis suggests H2Boil biofuel production could be an economically viable competitor to oil

Purdue University conducted an economic analysis of the H2Boil method and found that if hydrogen produced through natural gas or coal can make the process more financially competitive. The analysis is based on the price of crude oil being approximately $100 per barrel, however. With the prices of oil rising steadily, the biofuel production process may not be an economically viable alternative unless researchers can find a way to make use of more cost-effective technologies.

Problems with efficient production continue to keep biofuel at bay

Biofuel has managed to attract more attention in recent months, but has been unable to compete with other forms of alternative energy, such as solar, wind, and hydrogen. Though biofuel can be used for a variety of purposes, production of the fuel remains a problematic issue.

Related article(s) and resources:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181954.htm: