PNNL researchers scaling up patented process for ethanol-to-jet or diesel

August 19, 2021 |

In Washington state, a patented process for converting alcohol sourced from renewable or industrial waste gasses into jet or diesel fuel is being scaled up at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with the help of partners at Oregon State University and the carbon-recycling experts at LanzaTech.

Two key technologies power the energy-efficient fuel production units.

A single-step chemical conversion streamlines what is currently a multi-step process. The new PNNL-patented catalyst converts biofuel (ethanol) directly into a versatile “platform” chemical called n-butene. A microchannel reactor design further reduces costs while delivering a scalable modular processing system.

The new process would provide a more efficient route for converting renewable and waste-derived ethanol to useful chemicals. Currently, n-butene is produced from fossil-based feedstocks using the energy-intensive cracking—or breaking down—of large molecules. The new technology reduces emissions of carbon dioxide by using renewable or recycled carbon feedstocks. Using sustainably derived n-butene as a starting point, existing processes can further refine the chemical for multiple commercial uses, including diesel and jet fuels, and industrial lubricants.

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Category: Research

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