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Researchers Develop Method to Convert Wet Biowaste into Diesel-compatible Fuel

Jul, 2021

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Researchers develop a new method that can be utilized for converting wet biological wastes into diesel-compatible fuel.

Researchers are working on producing renewable engine fuels that are compatible with existing diesel fuel infrastructure. During this study, researchers developed a method to convert wet biowaste, such as swine manure and food scraps, into a fuel that can be blended with diesel and that shares diesel's combustion efficiency and emissions profile.

Brajendra K. Sharma, co-author of the study said, “The demonstration that fuels produced from wet waste can be used in engines is a huge step forward for the development of sustainable liquid fuels.” Around 79 million dry tons of wet biowaste is produced annually in the U.S. from food processing industries and animal production. The amount of water present in these wastes is a major hurdle to extract energy from the wastes.

A potential solution to this problem is hydrothermal liquification. This method uses water as the reaction medium and converts even nonlipid (nonfatty) biowaste components into biocrude oil that can be further processed into engine fuels. In this study, distillation was combined with a process known as esterification to convert the most promising fractions of distilled biocrude into a liquid fuel that can be blended with diesel. A pilot-scale HTL reactors was developed by the research team to produce the biocrude oil for upgrading.

Furthermore, the team is building a pilot-scale reactor that can be mounted on a mobile trailer and one which has the capacity to process one ton of biowaste and produce 30 gallons of biocrude oil per day.

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