Scientists Develop New Chemical Process to Convert Plant Waste into Greener Gasoline

Greener Gasoline

After successfully converting plant waste into building blocks of greener gasoline in 2014, scientists at KU Leuven, Belgium have now developed ready-to-use recipe to produce cellulose gasoline for industrial applications. Cellulose, one of the main components of plant fibers, in sawdust, can be converted into hydrocarbon chains through a chemical process.

According to Bert Sels from KU Leuven, the obtained hydrocarbon chains can be used as a gasoline additive to produce secondary biofuel or cellulose gasoline. Plant waste such as sawdust was exposed to a chemical process to create a product that replicates its petrochemical counterparts. A slight difference with fossil gasoline (obtained by carbon dating) is observed only in the end product, said Bert Sels.

In their initial experiment, researchers developed a chemical reactor for the production of cellulose gasoline at smaller scale. The investigation went on to integrate this bio-refining process for producing cellulose gasoline in larger quantities. Aron Deneyer, a researcher in KU Leuven, studied to determine an ideal segment of the prevailing petroleum refining process in which cellulose can be best incorporated in petroleum and promote the production of highly bio-sourced gasoline. As a result of this study, a new ready-to-use recipe for producing cellulose gasoline has been developed.

According to the researchers, industries can directly apply this recipe which not only prevents the quality loss for gasoline but also maximizes the use of existing refining processes. Further, it can help oil & gas plants to generate greener fuel. Professor Sels said, cellulose gasoline must be as a midway of the development.

Current biofuel consumption is significantly high to produce greener gasoline entirely from plant waste. Although cellulose is still mixed with petroleum, it is not 100% sourced from renewable raw materials. In response, Professor Sels emphasis that the product highlights the possibility of consuming greener gasoline while a growing number of automobiles functions on liquid fuel. The researchers believe, in the future, dependence on liquid fuel will continue although to a fewer extent. Industries are expected to show keen interest in their process to transform gasoline production to be fully bio-based. This latest development will further possibly quell increasing crude prices in several economies around the globe.

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Rohit Bhisey

Rohit Bhisey

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