Researchers describe how biofuels can achieve cost parity with petroleum fuels – pre-Covid-19

April 19, 2020 |

In California, Berkeley Lab researchers answered two questions regarding biofuels –what amount of bioproduct a plant needs to produce in order to make the process of extracting it worthwhile, and what amount needs to be made in order to reach the target ethanol selling price of $2.50 per gallon which was the average cost in that area before Covid-19 and the oil price crash.

Their results show that this strategy for reducing the cost of biofuels is feasible — but scientists shouldn’t put all of their eggs in one basket, because the market for each high-value product is limited in size. Their analysis suggests that just five commercial-scale biorefineries could support the entire projected 2025 market demand for limonene. Scown said crops need to be engineered to produce a broad range of products to make sure the industry is diversified and the market is not flooded for any one product.

One of the study’s leaders, Corinne Scown, said the biggest impact of the paper is that it offers the first quantitative basis to actually implement this cost-saving strategy, providing a starting point for scientists who are attempting to engineer or breed plants that create bioproducts on their own and offset the cost of making biofuels as a result.

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Category: Research

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