June 07, 2011
New Fuels Being Developed in Australia - Saumin Patel
Scientists in Australia claim that they are developing a new and more powerful biofuel from feedstock — raw materials for the paper industry — which could fuel the aviation industry in the not too distant future.
A team at the University of Sydney, led by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, behind the cutting-edge research, says that the process uses what is known as “lignocellulosic feedstocks” sourced from existing processes in the pulp and paper industry or even grass cuttings.
“We are making biocrude oil out of lignocellulosic feedstock using a high pressure, high temperature process that is aided by catalysts to remove the biomass oxygen,” Professor Maschmeyer said.
The process, developed in co-operation with Ignite Energy Resources, will be making use of a research processing plant located at the university campus. The procedure retains four times more energy in biocrude than is retained in bioethanol, he said.
Although the scientists are optimistic that the technology will be a major boon for the aviation industry, they say that the need for large quantities of biomass would require some innovative thinking.
“If we were to change all of the aviation fuels into renewable fuels, based on our process... we would need about 10 per cent of the world’s current agriculture production.
“That’s a large number, but I can imagine that to be possible via may be macroalgae — going offshore, into salt water, not competing with current land use, not competing with fresh water,” Prof. Maschmeyer said.