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Turning Wood Chips Into Gasoline


Science & Tech  (tags: environment, energy, science, technology, world, humans, news )

JL
- 522 days ago - green.blogs.nytimes.com
KiOR, a renewable fuel start-up based in Pasadena, Tex., said Thursday that it had produced a crude oil made from wood chips at a plant in Mississippi and expected to refine it into gasoline and diesel and sell it commercially later this month.



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Comments

Roger Garin-michaud (60)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 11:50 am
very bad news if they start to chop down even more of the few remaining trees to pollute even more our atmosphere...
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 11:56 am

Green - Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line
November 8, 2012, 4:31 pm
Turning Wood Chips into Gasoline
By MATTHEW L. WALD

KiOR, a renewable fuel start-up based in Pasadena, Tex., said Thursday that it had produced a crude oil made from wood chips at a plant in Mississippi and expected to refine it into gasoline and diesel and sell it commercially later this month. That would be a first for the cellulosic biofuel sector.

In a conference call with investment analysts, company executives would not say just how much they had made at the conversion plant, in Columbus, Miss., or how well it was running. But they said the remaining step, refining the oil into products, would involve standard technology.

Theysaid they had already accomplished the hard part, developing a proprietary technology that involves rearranging the molecules of biomass into an oil in a matter of moments. In nature, it takes millions of years.

If the oil from low-value wood chips is refined into products like gasoline and diesel, which are expensive and heavily supported by government policy, that would be a major milestone in the history of renewable energy. This kind of renewable energy, generally known as cellulosic biofuel because it comes from woody, nonedible sources, has lagged behind areas like solar cells and wind turbines.

Yet even when solar and wind power work well, they mostly serve as a substitute for natural gas, which is quite cheap at the moment. Renewable substitutes for natural gas do not replace imports from unstable places like the Persian Gulf, as the biofuel would.

But details on any challenges faced by the $200 million plant were not forthcoming. Fred Cannon, the company's president and chief executive, said KiOR had "experienced normal start-up issues" but that they did not involve its proprietary process.

KiOR shreds the wood, mainly Southern yellow pine, into small particles and mixes it with a powdered catalyst under very mild pressure, about 25 pounds per square inch. For the plant to be a commercial success, it will have to achieve steady operations and a high yield of product per ton of biomass, two areas that Mr. Cannon said the company was making progress in.

The plant aims to turn out 13 million gallons of fuel a year and has already lined up customers, it said.

The plant needs certification from the Environmental Protection Agency before it can generate renewable energy credits for gasoline, which it can then sell to refineries and others that are obligated to use renewable fuel. Those sales would help offset its production costs.

Over-optimistic predictions for the renewable motor fuel field have been common for decades, but KiOR reiterated that it planned to begin making commercial shipments very soon.

Other companies in the biofuels sector are working to make cellulosic ethanol.

 

JL A. (269)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 12:57 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Roger because you have done so within the last week. Let's hope they are getting leftovers from a lumbermill or somewhere equivalent.
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 1:42 pm
A comparison we should always remember as the context for this issue Sigismund! You cannot currently send a star to Sigismund because you have done so within the last week.
 

Freya H. (287)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 2:30 pm
Hey OPEC! B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B!!!
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 2:35 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Freya because you have done so within the last week.
 

Terry V. (30)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 6:13 pm

Earth Cry

Mother Nature Needs Us
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 6:21 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.
 

John B. (215)
Monday November 12, 2012, 1:18 am
Thanks J.L. for the post. This may be a good thing, but I worry that should production really start to pick up, where will the wood come from to chip and convert to it to crude. I also worry about the continuation of using even bio-fuels because of the emissions it generates. I can see the advantages over drilling and fracking and this just might not bode well for most of the oil production industry. Read and noted.
 

Gloria picchetti (279)
Monday November 12, 2012, 6:55 am
What about that stuff that grows in the South? I think it's called kudzo. If it would make wood chips it would our oil!
 

JL A. (269)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:08 am
You cannot currently send a star to Gloria because you have done so within the last week.
 

JL A. (269)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:24 am
I share your concerns John. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.
 

Theodore Shayne (56)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:34 am
Where are they getting the wood chips from? It's still a fossil fuel.
 

JL A. (269)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:39 am
Good question Theodore.
 

Dave C. (204)
Monday November 12, 2012, 9:16 am
sounds good if it is truly re-using wasted material, but we still have to get ourselves off of liquid energy sources.....
 

JL A. (269)
Monday November 12, 2012, 9:42 am
Very true Dave.You cannot currently send a star to Dave because you have done so within the last week.
 

Winn Adams (178)
Monday November 12, 2012, 11:43 am
sad
 

Ann Breeden (65)
Monday November 12, 2012, 3:04 pm
Interesting. Some of the trees that have been cut down because of Hurricane Sandy could be used.
 

JL A. (269)
Monday November 12, 2012, 3:11 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Ann because you have done so within the last week.
 

Elizabeth M. (63)
Monday November 12, 2012, 4:14 pm
Just where in heavens name are they going to get enough yellow pine, and I wonder what the catalyst is? We can't afford to be cutting down any more trees!! Now I heard on the news over a year ago that a man from Vancouver, Canada, was using used oil from McDonalds, Kentucky Fried and anywhere else that he could get used oil from, and he had converted somehow and was running his vehicle on used cooking oil! I still think that garbage can somehow be turned into a fuel we could use... what do you think???
 

Past Member (0)
Monday November 12, 2012, 4:24 pm
2 years ago, in a town about 15 miles away from where i live, a company wanted to build an energy plant using wood chips. Luckily, the town did its homework and the research showed that in order to keep the plant running at optimum capacity, within 5 years, half the wood lots in the county would have to be sacrificed. Needless to say, even though the company promised a hundred good paying jobs and a boost to the economy, the town decided to turn the proposal down.
 

Carrie B. (279)
Monday November 12, 2012, 4:43 pm
Oh great, more bad news for the environment!
 

JL A. (269)
Monday November 12, 2012, 5:35 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Carrie because you have done so within the last week.
 

Julie W. (20)
Monday November 12, 2012, 11:52 pm
Elizabeth, running a car on used cooking oil is not so unusual - I know several people in Australia who do this. Sacrificing trees for oil is a stupid idea - hasn't anyone read The Lorax? No plans were mentioned for replacing the trees.
 

Aleksander L. (21)
Tuesday November 13, 2012, 4:30 am
Germany in WW2 used Coal to Gasoline Plant as primary fuel supplier.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_fuel
In USA they plan to construct one in West Virginia and Wyoming.And guess who is going to built them?
China Petrochemical Corp!They already built the largest one in China.
 

Tal H. (8)
Tuesday November 13, 2012, 5:19 pm
Thanks for the share!
 

JL A. (269)
Tuesday November 13, 2012, 5:33 pm
You are welcome Talya!
 

Robert Garvin (46)
Tuesday November 13, 2012, 10:15 pm
I wonder how much will end up in the "vitamin/Mineral" suppliments industry? It sure is a whole lot cheaper to use Coal Tar or Petro chemicals as the base instead of natural sources. Can keep it longer as there is NO real food value in them and they can make LOTS more money that way.
 

JL A. (269)
Wednesday November 14, 2012, 6:48 am
Robert, the sources you speak of were created from things like wood over many, many years. This process speeds it up. If consumers look for labels saying their supplements were made using pharmaceutical manufacturing standards, then none of it could end up there.
 

deb s. (148)
Wednesday November 14, 2012, 2:34 pm
great idea recycle!
 

Tal H. (8)
Thursday November 15, 2012, 4:00 pm
Thanks for the share!
 

JL A. (269)
Thursday November 15, 2012, 4:07 pm
You are welcome Talya!
 

LMj Sunshine (112)
Thursday November 15, 2012, 4:40 pm
Not good news, thank you for info.
 

JL A. (269)
Thursday November 15, 2012, 7:38 pm
You cannot currently send a star to LMj because you have done so within the last week.
 

Melania Padilla (165)
Friday November 16, 2012, 10:32 am
Totally disagree... This is not the way to get independency from fossil fuels!!
 

Klaus Peters (8)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:33 am
I am happy with this technologie to a point, but only if we do not sacrifice our forrests for it. The best solution would be to use suburban prunings and cut down trees from back yards. In our area we cannot get rid of prunings or tree trunks anymore because our council is cutting costs. Our 2 annual collections are gone and our rates have gone up massively and so have the tipping fees, so I am stuck with it. My back yard became a tip and so do quiet roads in the area, people just dump rubbish during the night. Then again, government do not care, it is all about their big pays and no action. (Our council just had huge pay raises after annual collections were canceled, more methane).
 

JL A. (269)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 8:03 am
I suspect many communities had such illogical regressions Klaus. You cannot currently send a star to Klaus because you have done so within the last week.
 
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