Digest readers dump hydrotreating for sugar-to-diesel as hottest biofuels technology

November 1, 2010 |

In Florida, Digest readers dethroned hydrotreating as the hottest biofuels processing technology, installing “Drop-in fuels produced from biomass, using catalytic reforming, or microbial conversion of sugars to diesel” as the new champion, as the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy 2010-11 voting process got underway.

Voting debuts each year with the annual Digest survey on the “Hottest fuels, feedstocks and processing technologies”.

Survey results are here.

The survey is conducted at the launch of the 40-day voting period for the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy, which will be announced on December 7th.

For the second consecutive year, readers identified waste biomass (e.g. agriculture, animal, municipal or forest residues) as the hottest biofuels feedstock, and drop-in, renewable jet fuel as the hottest fuel.

Reader comments of note

“In America there is about 159 million tons of fuels available in municipal solid wastes every year and more around the world: Curt Harris, CCBW

“Waste biomass will answer and fill in the blanks…the only solution is to abolish fuel from coal, which comprises 80% of greenhouse emissions” – Jaime Imbat. Philippines

“Do not forget about renewable industrial wastes that are being produced every day in large volumes, like Auto Shredder Residue. I do not understand why this material is not being considered as a renewable feedstock.” – anon

“PennyCress or “Stink Weed” can be double cropped since it is a winter crop and produces about 100 gallons per acres and make biodiesel that beats anything for cold flow properties, USDA in Peoria IL is researching this as well as a couple of biodiesel producers.” – anon

“Drop-in FT fuels offer the best alternative to conventional fuels for both jet and diesel applications. Ethanol is volumetricly limited and should not be used at greater than 10% due to its very low energy density and compatibility with vehicles not designed for E85. Biodiesel has NOx and stability issues that have not been corrected. HRJ and Green Diesel show promise, but at a high lifecycle cost.” – anon

“Drop-in fuels are a must if we are to leverage existing infrastructure and user habits. And if we must blend, biobutanol appears the least of the known evils – it has relatively low oxygen content, is easy to store and transport and blends easily with diesel and gasoline without bringing a lot of moisture along with it.” – anon

Waste reigns again as hottest feedstock, algae gains

Among feedstocks, waste biomass increased its lead from last year, while energy grasses (e.g. miscanthus, switchgrass) moved into second place, up from a tie for third in 2009. Algae took third place, up from fourth place in 2009, while forest woods fell from second place in 2009 to 4th place. Sugarcane came in 5th place.

Renewable jet picked as hottest fuel

In the 2009 survey, renewable jet tied with renewable gasoline at the top of the poll, but in this year’s voting renewable jet pulled way ahead, and renewable gasoline fell to 3rd place behind drop-in renewable diesel. Biodiesel and biobutanol tied for fourth place among fuels.

Sugar-to-diesel, gasification rule among processing technologies

Among processing technologies, gasification took second place this year, up from a tie for 4th in 2009, while pyrolysis, cellulosic ethanol, and the Fischer-Tropsch process all tied for third place. Last year, enzymatic or acid hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion took spots in the top three.
Results included in Selectors Data Book, 355-page book available free to 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy Voters

Full results are available here, and will be included in the free, annual Selectors Data Book, which profiles feedstocks, fuels, technologies, and competitors in the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy competition. The 350-page Data Book is made available free of charge to invited international selectors as well as Digest subscribers.

The Data Book includes profiles of competing companies, plus the Top 100 People In Bioenergy, the Transformative Technology 30 for 2010, and detailed extracts from the Advanced Biofuels Tracking Database, as well as rankings in the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy for the past two years.

Readers, as well as a panel of invited international selectors, vote in the Hot 50, which has generated more than 10,000 references in the Google search engine since its inception in 2008, and holds down nine of the top ten search results under “50 hottest companies” and two of the top 10 results under “hottest companies”.

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