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The clean green slate

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

In a very short period, the recent expansion of the global biofuels industry has created a remarkable platform on which to build the next generation of biofuels plants. In the past 10 years, several countries and jurisdictions have moved aggressively towards building a biofuels industry. Policy makers have been driven by a combination of factors that include climate change and the need to reduce green house gas emissions from the transportation sector. These environmental considerations are supplemented by energy security issues, which are heightened by the recent escalation in oil prices. Almost without exception, the jurisdictions that have been successful in building an industry have used a combination of policies. These include regulations that ensure market access for renewable fuels and financial support targeted at building a domestic supply of these new fuels.

Next generation technologies

The Conference Board of Canada (a well respected think tank) believes that growth in the biofuels industry will come from innovation, as well as the commercialisation of next generation technologies and infrastructure.

There are at least two main streams of technologies competing for the next generation biofuels prize. Enzymatic hydrolosis uses patented technologies that convert sugars from biomass into biofuels, utilising patented enzymes as the tool to access these sugars.

The other primary technology ‘train’ that has captured a lot of attention in the biofuels arena is gasification or thermo chemical technology. Several companies have developed gasification technologies that may produce synthesis gas, but one company has led the way in developing a technology that can produce ethanol from ‘garbage’.


According to the International Energy Agency, it will be possible to produce up to 27% of the world’s transportation fuels from biofuels by 2050, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This, of course, is contingent upon continued support for this growing and important energy sector.

You can find the complete article in the February issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.

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