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Enerkem produces high-octane biofuel

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

During the 255th American Chemical Society national meeting, Enerkem Inc. announced that it had succeeded in producing a new high-performance biofuel that could improve the octane rating of fuels sold on the market and reduce their carbon footprint.

The chemical engineering expertise at Enerkem's Innovation Centre in Westbury, Quebec, allowed the company to develop a process that uses its waste-to-biofuel technology to produce a new biofuel with a Research Octane Number (RON) of up to 112. This is 20 points higher than the average octane rating found in regular motor gasoline.

By using bio-dimethyl ether (bio-DME) – a product derived from Enerkem's biomethanol – combined with a DME-to-high-octane-gasoline catalyst –developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US – the Enerkem-NREL team demonstrated the production of an alternative fuel rich in paraffins at pilot scale.

In addition to the various environmental and economic upsides, there are many possible applications for a high-octane biofuel derived from bio-DME. The non-oxygenated additive could serve the specialised fuels market, such as the aviation gasoline and professional motorsport sector. As with the biomethanol and advanced ethanol produced today at commercial scale by Enerkem, this new biofuel allows better combustion, replaces fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's a major breakthrough that could enable the development of a new non-oxygenated biofuel made from waste on a commercial scale," explained Stéphane Marie-Rose, Director of Enerkem's Innovation Centre. "Through the very selective catalytic reaction achieved using our waste-to-biofuels process, we have formed paraffinic molecules, such as triptane, whose properties already contain a high-octane rating, thereby increasing the volume of paraffins when used as an additive in a conventional fuel."

Enerkem's Innovation Centre intends to build on this technological advancement by further developing and optimising the process as well as evaluating the potential commercial applications in the coming months.

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