This efficient, cost-effective process creates light hydrocarbon fuels like propylene or propane from biomass or syngas feedstock. The two-step process converts a wide area of biomass sugars and carbohydrates into fuels or new feedstock for the chemical and polymer industry.
At present, there is no cheap and easy way to convert biomass to hydrocarbon fuel without having to completely degrade the biomass. This process uses fermentation and dehydration to create hydrocarbon fuel, a much faster and less expensive alternative. In addition, this process shows a significant reduction in separation costs compared to creating leading biofuels like ethanol because the end products are generally not water soluble.
The national focus on developing domestic sources for fuels and chemicals and the fact that this technology can be used with existing distribution infrastructure ensures a market for this renewable fuel source.
The first step ferments carbohydrates like glucose and xylose to a carboxylic acid or a similar intermediary. In the second step, the acid is subjected to hydrothermal decarboxylation and/or dehydration to yield light alkanes and alkenes. The process can be altered to include an additional step in the which the intermediate chemicals are concentrated, diluted, or otherwise purified.
The process has been tested by successfully converting biologically derived poly hydroxybutyrate to propylene.