New liquid fuels – out of biomass and waste?

#FutureFuels – part 2

The future of oil heating systems in Europe are new liquid fuels with reduced greenhouse gas footprint. Their production is being intensively researched. While the raw materials for these new liquid fuels can vary, they have one thing in common: they do not compete with food production. This second edition of our weekly articles on #FutureFuels is about synthetically produced fuels from biomass (Biomass-to-Liquid, BtL) and waste (Waste-to-Liquid, WtL).


(Source: OWI; graph: IWO / Eurofuel)

{slider Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO)}

An alternative to conventional heating oil is Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO). HVO is produced from used cooking oil, residues from the food industry and vegetable oils which are not intended for food. HVO is an aromatics-free blend of paraffins, the simplest type of hydrocarbon molecule for clean and complete combustion. The hydrotreating of vegetable oils and suitable waste, as well as waste fats, for the production of HVO is now a mature technology and is available on industrial scale. The product is marketed in the EU and outside or Europe. For a tonne of HVO you need about 1.23 tons of vegetable oil.

{slider Biomass-to-Liquid (BtL)}

Typical liquid fuels are mostly made out of carbon and hydrogen. Their combustion mainly produces water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). If this CO2 is reintegrated into the production of fuels, a closed carbon cycle is achieved with greenhouse gas neutrality: The same amount of carbon dioxide is released during combustion as what has been withdrawn from the atmosphere in the production stage. Carbon dioxide becomes a sustainable raw material.

Plant photosynthesis is the natural pathway of a closed carbon cycle. In biomass-to-liquid (BtL) processes, liquid fuels with a greenhouse gas reduction potential up to 90 per cent can be generated from a variety of vegetable raw materials such as algae, waste wood or straw.

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{slider Waste-to-Liquid (WtL)}

Waste from households or industry can also serve as a carbon source in the Waste-to-Liquid (WtL) process and are the raw material for new liquid fuels. The required hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using electricity. Its origin is crucial for the greenhouse gas balance of the product: If green electricity from renewable sources is used, a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved.

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Other #FutureFuels articles

Part 1: What future liquid fuels to heat our homes?

Part 3: New liquid fuels... out of the sunshine? 

Part 4: New liquid fuels... out of algae? 

Part 5: Future fuels: Climate friendly... and affordable?

Interested to learn more?

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Register to our workshop on Future Liquid Fuels, which will take place in Brussels on Wednesday 6 June 2018.