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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jul 7;49(13):8183-92. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00060. Epub 2015 Jun 10.

Natural Gas and Cellulosic Biomass: A Clean Fuel Combination? Determining the Natural Gas Blending Wall in Biofuel Production.

Author information

1
†Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.
2
‡Department of Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 04 Marston Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011, United States.
3
§MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.

Abstract

Natural gas has the potential to increase the biofuel production output by combining gas- and biomass-to-liquids (GBTL) processes followed by naphtha and diesel fuel synthesis via Fischer-Tropsch (FT). This study reflects on the use of commercial-ready configurations of GBTL technologies and the environmental impact of enhancing biofuels with natural gas. The autothermal and steam-methane reforming processes for natural gas conversion and the gasification of biomass for FT fuel synthesis are modeled to estimate system well-to-wheel emissions and compare them to limits established by U.S. renewable fuel mandates. We show that natural gas can enhance FT biofuel production by reducing the need for water-gas shift (WGS) of biomass-derived syngas to achieve appropriate H2/CO ratios. Specifically, fuel yields are increased from less than 60 gallons per ton to over 100 gallons per ton with increasing natural gas input. However, GBTL facilities would need to limit natural gas use to less than 19.1% on a LHV energy basis (7.83 wt %) to avoid exceeding the emissions limits established by the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) for clean, advanced biofuels. This effectively constitutes a blending limit that constrains the use of natural gas for enhancing the biomass-to-liquids (BTL) process.

PMID:
26010031
DOI:
10.1021/acs.est.5b00060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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