WUR researchers produce new aviation fuel from bio-based side streams

October 10, 2021 |

In the Netherlands, Wageningen University & Research and its partners developed a new type of aviation fuel that is produced using bio-based waste streams from the agriculture industry. The new type of fuel is based on a mixture of acetone and alcohol. While it does not yet meet all requirements, it is getting close. The expectation is that, after some processing steps have been optimized, it will meet all the applicable conditions.

The raw materials used as model in this project are residual streams from the processing of potatoes. These streams were used as a raw material for the fermentative production of acetone, butanol and ethanol (ABE fermentation). While the composition of the waste streams makes them suitable for fermentation, they are currently used for low-value applications.

In the approach taken in this project, the mixture of ABE that is produced from the substrate is catalytically converted into hydrocarbons and, after hydrogenation and fractionation, into aviation fuel. Through experimental research, the complete production and value chains for the conversion of wet agricultural waste streams into fuel have been shown to be technically feasible. A techno-economic assessment and a life cycle analysis (LCA) of the value chain have also been carried out.

The feedstock in this project is potato waste streams, which are currently sold as low-value cattle feed, or are converted through anaerobic digestion into methane. However, a commercial process will also require additional feedstocks, to achieve sufficient volume. Possible feedstocks that meet the criteria of Annex IX of the RED are lignocellulosic biomass and waste streams from the paper industry.

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Category: Research

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