Study conducted at University of Wisconsin–Madison found that along with carbon efficiency, fuel quality and energy requirements play an important role in determining biofuel efficiency.
Previously biofuels researcher believed that carbon efficiency was the most important factor for deciding the production of biofuels. However, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), along with carbon efficiency, fuel quality, and energy requirements are also key factors for determining promising strategies for selecting of next-generation biofuels strategies. Their findings were published in the journal on September 28, 2018.
The researchers analyzed the different parameters for assessing biofuels strategies. They provided two important parameters for biofuel assessing: energy required to produce fuels in a biorefinery and the fuels’ efficiency in a vehicle’s engine. They compared processes for producing biofuels from corn stover to understand the strategies for producing biofuels. They analyzed biological conversion to ethanol (BCE) and catalytic conversion to alkenes, and concluded that both energy requirements and fuel efficiency are equally important as that of carbon efficiency requirement for biofuel strategy determination.
Fasahati, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, explained their findings as: “For example, BCE, which produces ethanol, has very high carbon efficiency, but the fuel itself has lower energy content. With CCA, less of the original carbon ends up in the fuel produced, but the fuel has a higher efficiency when you burn it in a car.”
Using factored electricity generation into their calculation of production energy efficiency for each strategy, the pair of researchers demonstrated their findings. The researchers hope that their findings will provide other scientists working in the field of biofuel to take a better approach, which will help meet the Department of Energy’s Renewable Fuel Standard in the near future.