Biofuel Production with the Sun, the Sea and Thermochemical Reactions
by Marcius Extavour (XPRIZE/Biofuels Digest) … Hydrocarbon drop-in fuels are among the leading products targeted by the CO2 conversion community, be it diesel, methanol, butanol, or others. New approaches to the science and technology of CO2-to-fuels may alter the energetics, the economics, and the business case to the point where bio-based CO2 conversion could be poised for a radical leap forward.
Driving realization of a robust circular carbon biofuel category, our semifinalist teams’ work in the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE have shown that there are many ways to make a biofuel — presenting a series of exciting new technology platforms described below that may emerge from the competition into commercialization.
From Hydrochar to Carbon Negative Renewable Diesel
Taking a biological approach, Team Aljadix from Basel, Switzerland, plans to use carbon dioxide to grow microalgae in its large-scale process for carbon negative renewable diesel.
The “secret sauce” in their process comes from a hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) co-product: hydrochar.
Thermochemical Conversion to Methanol and Sellable Biochar
Jumping to California, Ventura-based Hago Energetics sees conversion of waste CO2 as a key to making valuable and profitable products with carbon negative technology. The company plans to monetize power plant emissions directly at the production site with an approach that comprises thermochemical conversion of CO2 to liquid fuels such as methanol, and to sellable biochar, with the aid of unwanted waste biomass and methane.
Power of the Sun for Syngas or Methanol
A third scalable approach harnesses the power of the sun and the abundant greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, for the production of energy.
The team has gone on to invent a reactor platform technology which they call HI-LIGHT. Focusing more on photocatalysis at this stage, the reactor platform has the ability to select for two main outputs, syngas or methanol. As both an XPRIZE semifinalist and NSF-supported company, Dimensional Energy is collocating their HI-LIGHT reactor at the Cornell CHP Plant in Ithaca, N.Y., to convert CO2 emissions onsite. READ MORE