Techno-economic and environmental evaluation of producing chemicals and drop-in aviation biofuels via aqueous phase processing

6
Mar

Techno-economic and environmental evaluation of producing chemicals and drop-in aviation biofuels via aqueous phase processing

Renewable liquid fuels from biomass are a potential alternative to petroleum-derived fuels to address anthropogenic climate change. To date, renewable fuel production consists primarily of biodiesel and ethanol. Yet, the physical and chemical properties of these fuels are not compatible with a number of applications including aviation. Aviation needs drop-in biofuels that can seamlessly integrate with the existing infrastructure. The deployment of these fuels, however, has been impeded by high production costs driven primarily by high feedstock costs, low fuel yields and/or energy-intensive conversion processes. In our paper published in the journal “Energy and Environmental Science”, through detailed process design and simulation of biorefinery scenarios for a novel thermochemical conversion process, we find that the economic feasibility of aviation biofuels can be significantly increased if high-value chemicals are co-produced along with fuels in the biorefinery. We also show that the enhanced economic performance does not come at the expense of a lower environmental performance. On the contrary, we find that the aviation biofuel assessed in the study has the potential for significant GHG emission reductions compared to petroleum-derived jet fuel, especially when hydrogen is not sourced from the industry-standard steam methane reforming but from less carbon-intensive alternatives.

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