Lesson 8 covered thermochemical methods of converting biomass into fuels. These are the main methods being considered at this point; however, research continues on additional methods and what is included may not be a complete list. The main advantage of fermentation is that it is a natural process that does not require additional chemicals, but the main disadvantage to fermentation is the processes tend to be slow. All of the thermochemical processes require heat and some other process parameters that may make it more expensive – another lesson will discuss the economics behind all of the processes we’ve discussed for comparison.
We discussed both direct and indirect methods for making fuel from biomass. These methods are not just directed towards making ethanol. Many of these processes are used to make hydrocarbon fuels that limit the amount of oxygen in the product, as too much oxygen typically results in either causing the fuel to form unwanted “gums" or a corrosive environment that will cause problems in the units and storage containers. For jet fuels, oxygenated compounds will keep the fuel from being certified for use, so most of the methods presented make deoxygenated jet fuel. I would suggest continuing to monitor the news to see the progression in certification for additional bio-based fuels.
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Reminder - Complete all of the Lesson 8 tasks!
You have reached the end of Lesson 8! Double-check the Road Map on the Lesson 8 Overview page to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there before you begin Lesson 9.
If there is anything in the lesson materials that you would like to comment on, or don't quite understand, please remember to post your thoughts and/or questions to our Questions? discussion forum (not e-mail), located under the Communicate tab in ANGEL. I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. Remember that while you are there, you should also feel free to post your own responses if you are able to help out a classmate.