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A Sustainable, Affordable Diesel Oxygenate

Submitted by on November 4, 2014 – 7:02 pmNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  A bolt-on technology for ethanol plants, costing less than $2 per installed gallon, producing a cellulosic biofuel additive that oxygenates diesel fuel at competitive prices?  It’s early stage, but what’s not to like?   The Digest looks at xF Technologies.

(F)rom the EIA: “Oxygenates are added to motor vehicle fuels to make them burn more cleanly, thereby reducing toxic tailpipe pollution, particularly carbon monoxide. Oxygenates are favored not only for their vehicle emission benefits but also their blending properties in motor gasoline (e.g., octane).”

Turns out, as a US Army review noted, “Several exhaust emissions studies have shown that using oxygen-containing fuels such as methanol and dimethyl ether as diesel fuels substantially reduce PM exhaust emissions. A number of other studies report that blending oxygenates into diesel fuel will also significantly reduce PM emissions in diesel exhaust.”

The list of candidates for a diesel oxygenate is long. …

One of the most promising molecules under development at the moment is the family of alkyl furoates, a tongue-twister we’ll describe from this point on as “xF”.

Why promising? They can cost under $2.00 per gallon, are an economical route to using cellulosic biomass, and can reduce particulate matter emissions (PM) from diesel by as much as 50 percent with just a 5 percent blend. And can add much needed lubricity to diesel engines that have needed it since sulfur was taken out and ULSD was introduced — and ULSD was once described by a mechanic as “sand in your engine”.

It’s the cost that’s most intriguing. Biodiesel, of course, replaces lost lubricity and elegantly reduces particulate matter emissions. But it costs $975 per metric ton, wholesale — that’s more than $3 per gallon.

“Our xF is derived from methanol or ethanol, and biomass,” (xF Technologies) CEO Len Rand tells the Digest. “We use acid hydrolysis then organic catalysis.

How soon could xF be approved the market? Not next week, for sure. For diesel and heating oil, think 2.5 to 3 years for EPA and ASTM approval. On the gasoline oxygenate side, think (US market) in terms of 5+ years, for EPA and ASTM approval.   READ MORE


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