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Virent makes bio-gasoline from woody biomass

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Virent makes bio-gasoline from woody biomass

Virent says that it has successfully produced bio-gasoline from corn stover and pine residuals.


June 6, 2011
By Virent

June 6, 2011, Madison, WI – Virent says
that it has successfully produced bio-gasoline from corn stover and pine
residuals. The company is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s
February 2010 grant to the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC), and
this milestone supports the NABC’s goal to develop technologies to convert
cellulosic biomass feedstocks into hydrocarbon fuels that are sustainable, cost
effective, and compatible with existing infrastructure.

Virent’s catalysis of lignocellulosic
sugars (CLS) is one of six different process strategies represented in the
DOE’s grant program with the NABC. The CLS work to date was completed in
collaboration with Catchlight Energy (pine material supplier) and Iowa State
University (corn stover supplier), and with Washington State University
performing oxidation and enzymatic hydrolysis treatments necessary to digest cellulose
for these two samples. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory supplied
two additional hydrolysate samples, which underwent a dilute sulphuric acid
pre-treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis process for breakdown of the cellulose.
Virent then processed the four hydrolysate samples using its patented
BioForming process.

Virent fed each of the four hydrolysate
samples into its aqueous phase reforming catalyst reactor system,
removing most of the oxygen from the biomass sugar mixtures, producing
monoxygenates such as alcohols, aldehydes, and ketones, plus the reforming
products of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Virent’s APR process is well suited to
handle mixed sugars from cellulosic streams with minimal processing. The
liquids were then fed into Virent’s catalytic-oxygenates-to-aromatics process to produce a high-octane bio-gasoline, which the company calls
BioFormate.

Gas chromatography analysis shows a
similarity between Virent’s BioFormate gasoline and a typical petroleum
reformate used at a refinery. Because of this similarity, Virent’s bio-gasoline
can be blended at high concentrations just as high-octane petroleum reformate
is used in blending commercial gasolines today.

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