EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 8: Thermochemical Methods to Produce Biofuels


In previous lessons, we have discussed producing ethanol and butanol using enzymes. However, there are limits to how ethanol and butanol will be utilized – they will most likely be used like gasoline (for automobiles). If you recall from Lesson 2, while gasoline is the main fuel, other fuels are also produced, i.e., jet fuel, diesel fuel, and fuel oil. These fuels are produced to be used in engines other than the automobile gasoline engine, and are therefore a different structure. In Lesson 8, we will see how to produce liquid fuels from biomass for use in jet engines (a medium chain length) using thermochemical direct and indirect liquefaction. We will spend more time on making biodiesel from vegetable oils, plant oils, and animal fats in a future lesson.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain the chemical characteristics of heavier fuels such as jet fuel and diesel fuel;
  • explain thermochemical processes used to produce higher molecular weight compounds, from direct and indirect methods;
  • evaluate how thermochemical processes are different from enzymatic processes.

Lesson 8 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Steps for Completing Lesson 8
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read Synopsis. (2009). In Liquid transportation fuels from coal and biomass technological status, costs, and environmental impacts. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. 8.6
2 Discussion #8 8.6
3 Final Project Outline 8.6
4 Exam #3 8.6


If you have any questions, please send them to All Course Instructors through ANGEL e-mail. I will check daily to respond. If your question is one that is relevant to the entire class, I may respond to the entire class rather than individually.