The various technologies used and further developed in Bio4Fuels include:
- Combined enzymatic and fermentation processes for 2nd generation bioethanol production, including the use of novel oxidative enzymes and development of yeast strains capable of fermenting C5 sugars. Future challenges include development of efficient and robust enzyme cocktails that are specifically tailored for efficient saccharification of woody biomasses, and development of fermentation processes to generate other types of fuels. Bio4Fuels will build on work currently done by partners at NMBU and SINTEF in a major national enzyme discovery and development project (norzymed.nmbu.no), with particular focus on developing more thermostable enzyme cocktails for processing softwood-derived biomass.
- Anaerobic digestion of biomass producing biogas mixtures that can be used directly for electricity- and/or heat production, or upgraded to methane for use as a vehicle fuel or as a feedstock in the specialty chemicals industry. Another potential use of biogas is the production of hydrogen, primarily as a renewable emission free vehicle fuel.
- Gasification, converting carbonaceous materials into combustible gases, often referred to as syngas. Bio4Fuels will among others address diversification of the feedstocks by including waste and by-products from agricultural, municipal and forest industry sectors. This may further improve process economy and lead to larger scale installations achieving higher efficiency. Process intensification is a kay challenge, togheter with energy efficient gas cleaning and robus process design, tolerant to variations in biomass composition.
- Combustion, converting biomass to energy, with wood stoves as the single main contributor to space heating after electricity. However, new, or improved combustion technologies are needed for emission reduction, efficiency increase and cost-efficiency optimisation. A key issue is broader feedstock utilization and minimization of waste.
- Direct liquefaction is a process to convert lignocellulosis to liquid fuels by fast pyrolysis at temperatures of about 400-600°C in the absence of oxygen and with very short residence times. However, pyrolysis liquids need upgrading to be used as transport fuels components.
- Hydrotermal liquefaction (HTL) refers to thermochemical conversion in hot pressurized water leading to conversion of biomass to mainly liquid components. HTL is ideal for processing wet biomass streams, thus avoiding use of energy for drying. The main challenges are low product quality, high crude oil viscosity and strong the feedstock dependence of product quality. In addition, high capital costs due to high operational pressure are hampering commercialization.
- Hydrotreating of Bio-oils is an option for implementing biofuels into the market. However, chemical transformations are required for production of gasoline/diesel comptabible bio-derived transportation fuels. In the long term it will therefore be necessary to establish technology for stand-alone processing of bio-oils to required fuels and product qualities.
- Chemical catalysis provide novel opportunities for converting sugars and lignocellulosic biomass into valuable high performance fuels and value added chemicals.