New value chains to produce commodity fuels from lignocellulosic feedstock

This research area adresses processes to convert biomass into liquid fuels. In particuar, high-yield and cost-effective production pathways for the small- to medium-scale production of ligno-cellulosic bioethanol and bio-jet fuels. These ligno-cellulose derived liquid fuels are primarily based on forestry and agricultural waste and residues, which avoids competition with food production and reduces environmental impacts.

Description of Research Area

The scope of the research area “liquid biofuels” is to deliver efficient and economically competitive routes for liquid fuel production from biomass. The researchers of the SCCER BIOSWEET aim at increasing liquid fuel yields by 30% by incorporating lignin conversion to hydrocarbons and reducing biochemical upgrading costs by 40% through consolidated bioprocessing and engineered enzyme cocktails. The core tasks of the research area are biomass pre-treatment, biochemical production of cellulosic ethanol and mixed carboxylic acids through consolidated bioprocessing and catalytic upgrading. Altogether, the following objectives are envisaged:

  • Increase biomass-to-sugar yields above 90% with pre-treatment temperatures below 140°C
  • Production of C9 hydrocarbons at high yields (>60%) from lignin using formaldehyde addition
  • Provide a continuous feeding system to the biomass steam pre-treatment
  • Increase the process efficiency for liquid fuel production by 20-30 %
  • Scaling-up and integration of biomass processing into fuel with generation of marketable by-products (e.g. carboxylic acids)
  • Increase the yields for conversion of lignin-derived and fermentation-derived molecules into jet fuel above 80%

Research Partners

Jeremy Luterbacher

Tenure-Track Assistant Professor and head of the Laboratory for Sustainable and Catalytic Processing at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Research profile

Michael Studer

Group leader and lecturer for energy engineering at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences of Bern University of Applied Sciences

Research profile

Frédéric Vogel

Head of the Catalytic Process Engineering Group at PSI and Lecturer at the School of Engineering of University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

Research profile

Outreach Material

Factsheet Biomass to Liquid Fuel

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