lignin-based biofuel?

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by bwilson4web, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

    Nov 25, 2005
    Huntsville AL
    2017 Prius Prime
    Prime Plus
    Source: Green Car Congress: Mærsk Group exploring use of lignin-based marine biofuels; CyclOx and B21st

    I thought Doug has been doing some research in how lignin is instrumental in carbon sequestration of forrest detritus. If I remember correctly, looking at fungi that might reduce lignin?

    I was not aware that lignin might become a biofuel. A quick Google search reveals it is an interesting material.

    Bob Wilson
  2. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    Northern VA (NoVA)
    2006 Prius
    hmm...ships currently run on marine diesel which is heavy bunker fuel with high sulfur. But it works well. Ships are sort of like jets, they need 100% high quality fuel. It is simply not acceptable for a fuel issue to cause a ship to lose power. Due to sulfur regulations, I believe there is a move to go to low sulfur diesel for ships, which is a lot more expensive than the bunker fuels used today, but it also works well. Seems to me wishful thinking to convert lignin into some kind of oxygenated new era ship fuel. With some advanced processing, lignin could be converted to regular diesel, and that might work better. Expensive as all get out, but technically possible.
  3. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Apr 10, 2004
    Kunming Yunnan China
    2001 Prius
    The first property of lignin we notice is making wood strong. Second, because it is a nearly random polymer,

    it can't be directly broken by enzymes. They (made by fungi) use an indirect approach of creating free radicals that break down anything, non selectively.

    In making paper from wood, the typical approach is to unhook lignin from cellulose with sulfuric acid. The cellulose becomes paper and the lignin becomes...well, not much. This is a feedstock with few uses at present. So, biofuel wise, if the process is cheap the fuel would be. Starting material approximately free.

    The typical way that lignin appears in biofuel discussions is 'how to get rid of it'? Now there is much research on certain fungi that perform well in the industrial setting. Again the typical starting material is cellulose, which is sugar polymer, and you invite bacteria to depolymerize, then invite yeast to make ethanol. In corn bioenergy you get to skip the early steps.

    In global photosynthesis the #1 molecule produced is cellulose, lignin second. We really ought to be thinking about ways to benefit from that. But I believe that a plain old forest (littered with decomposing wood) is a pretty good 'use'. It offers carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Two wonderful things that humans have not yet really decided that are worth paying for.

    Any time you have two carbon atoms connected, or C and H, heat can be extracted by burning with oxygen. So a chemical definition of 'fuel' is very broad. An economic definition would be narrower.
    bwilson4web and xs650 like this.
  4. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    Austin, TX, USA
    2018 Tesla Model 3
    Some information on the compound they are proposing.

    CyclOx | Progression Industry | WEDACS and PFAMEN

    Sounds good so far. Its a drop in fuel that may decrease particulates 50% but increase NOx by 10%. On big ship engines soot is a big pollutant and requires maintenance. On EPA and Euro 6 cars it means less cleaning of the dpf but more 10% more urea might be consumed.

    Currently a little more expensive in diesel then the diesel withoug it, but that can quickly change either by economies of scale, higher oil prices, or lower taxation rate. In europe, I would expect lower taxation.

    Sounds like the trick is to cheaply make it from lignin, then big ships will use it instead, and be able to reduce pollution. It would be great if they would switch to ultra low sulfur fuel, but this is a baby step in the right direction.

    Green Car Congress: Researchers Explore New Class of Second-Generation Biofuels for Diesel Engines: Cyclic Oxygenates