Biofuel from biomass

by Antonio Pasolini on February 22, 2008

Some encouraging news from the biofuel front was released by a Vancouver, Canada enterprise. Syntec Biofuel, a company developing biomass to fuel conversion technologies, announced that it has achieved a yield of 105 gallons of alcohol (ethanol, methanol, n-butanol and n-propanol) per ton of biomass. The company runs a 300 ton per day biomass processing facility, or the equivalent to revenues of over US$27 million per year.

The Syntec B2A technology, initially developed at the University of British Columbia, is focused on second-generation cellulosic ethanol production. The company’s technology uses any renewable waste biomass such as hard or soft wood, sawdust or bark, organic waste, agricultural waste (including sugar cane bagasse and corn stover), and switch-grass to produce syngas. This syngas, comprised of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is then scrubbed and passed through a fixed bed reactor containing the Syntec catalysts to produce ethanol, methanol and higher order alcohols. The technology can also produce alcohols from biogas (sourced from anaerobic digestion of manure and effluent), landfill gas or stranded methane.

Best of all, the company’s technology only uses sustainable waste biomass to produce its biofuel, according to its president, Mr Michael Jackson. “We believe strongly that fueling the worlds energy needs can be achieved without further impact to our environment, and that we possess the best and most ethical solution to bio-ethanol production”, says Mr. Jackson. This is particularly important as the world has woken up to, and started to question, the ethics and hidden costs behind the production of most of biofuels.

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