PNNL researchers produce renewable diesel from biocrude for more than 2,000 hours straight

March 25, 2021 |

In Washington state, a large-scale demonstration converting biocrude to renewable diesel fuel has passed a significant test, operating for more than 2,000 hours continuously without losing effectiveness. Scientists and engineers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conducted the research to show that the process is robust enough to handle many kinds of raw material without failing. 

The milestone was first described at a virtual conference organized by NextGenRoadFuels, a European consortium funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. It addresses the need to convert biocrude, a mixture of carbon-based polymers, into biofuels. In the near term, most expect that these biofuels will be further refined and then mixed with petroleum-based fuels used to power vehicles. 

Just as crude oil from petroleum sources must be refined to be used in vehicles, biocrude needs to be refined into biofuel. This step provides the crucial “last mile” in a multi-step process that starts with renewables such as crop residues, food residues, forestry byproducts, algae, or sewage sludge. For the most recent demonstration, the biocrude came from a variety of sources including converted food waste salvaged from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, located near Tacoma, Wash., and Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, located in Connell, Wash. The initial step in the process, called hydrothermal liquefaction, is being actively pursued in a number of demonstration projects by teams of PNNL scientists and engineers.

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Category: Research

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