Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels From Biomass MaterialsEPA Contract Number: EPD07044
Title: Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels From Biomass Materials
Investigators: Milliken, Christopher E
Small Business: Technology Management, Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Project Period: March 1, 2007 through August 31, 2007
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2007) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Emission Reductions and Biofuels , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Nearly all of the liquid fuels used in internal combustion engines (gasoline and diesel) in the United States are made from fossil fuels. Two rapidly growing liquid biofuel alternatives are ethanol and biodiesel. However, both processes are limited to specific crop products (corn starch and soybean oil) that have higher market value. Bulk plant byproducts (e.g., food processing wastes, mash/meal byproducts, etc.) and animal byproducts (e.g., manures from cows, hogs, chickens) are both examples of organic materials that are becoming more difficult to contain and dispose of without incurring additional environmental damage. An economical method to convert these organic sources into pump-quality fuels would have potentially great environmental and economic advantage.
Technology Management, Inc. (TMI), a solid oxide fuel cell company in Cleveland, Ohio, has identified a novel method for converting biomass, including plant and animal wastes, into alternative liquid fuels suitable for use in internal combustion engines. The core concept involves processing the organic material into a gaseous carbon-rich stream using an anaerobic digester, refining the gas stream composition using a solid-oxide electrochemical reactant processor, and passing the modified stream into a Fischer-Tropsch catalyst reactor to produce liquid fuels.
During Phase I, the engineering of a combined system will be evaluated and cost estimates will be performed. Electrochemical testing will be conducted to validate the efficiency and performance metrics. During Phase II, TMI will extend the engineering evaluation and involve outside experts in digester design as well as Fisher-Tropsch design and operation. In addition, a bench-scale system will be designed and built to demonstrate proof of concept and gain additional efficiency information. Experts in petroleum fuel processing and refining will be solicited for input as well. The combined system is expected to be able to use virtually any organic feedstock, including food processing wastes, commodity feed/meal, and animal byproducts such as those from dairy farms.