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 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.
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.
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 & Comments discussion forum and/or set up an appointment for office hour. While you are there, feel free to post responses to your classmates if you are able to help.