Converting Non-Food Biomass Into "Crude Oil"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This is an example of the kind of innovation explosion we are seeing more and more as our brilliant minds are turning to the quest for alternative fuels. From Fuel Fix:

A Houston-based biofuels firm named "KiOR" which is backed by billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, has developed a proprietary technology to convert non-food biomass into a crude oil substitute.

The oil can be further refined into gasoline or diesel blends that can be blended with petroleum-based fuels and “dropped in” to the nation’s existing fuel infrastructure without modifications. In that way, it is different from ethanol, the most widely used alternative fuel in the U.S., which requires separate pipelines, storage and distribution systems to handle it.

KiOR also says its process for producing gasoline and diesel blendstocks emits 80 percent less greenhouse gases than the process used to make conventional gasoline and diesel.

KiOR currently operates a demonstration plant in Pasadena, which the company calls the world’s first to produce renewable crude oil from biomass. At that plant, the firm is converting wood chips into the crude substitute.

The company is planning its first commercial scale plant in Columbus, Miss., with plans to build others in Georgia and Texas at a later date. Several companies including Hunt Refining, Catchlight Energy and FedEx have already agreed to buy fuels produced at the plant.

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