EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 7: Thermochemical Methods to Produce Biofuels

Lesson 7: Thermochemical Methods to Produce Biofuels


In previous lessons, we 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 previous lessons, 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 this lesson, 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 7 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and assignment due dates.


If there is anything in the lesson materials that you would like to comment on or don't quite understand, please post your thoughts and/or questions to our Throughout the Course Questions and Comments discussion forum. The discussion forum will be checked regularly. While you are there, feel free to post responses to your classmates if you are able to help. Regular office hours will be held to provide help for EGEE 439 students.