May 4, 2009
Solar tower powers biofuel process
Drive chemical reactions with sunlight-generated
heat and electricity and you can produce biofuel using a third of
the biomass required by today's processes.
A computer simulation shows that converting biomass to biofuel
can be extremely efficient when the process is heated to very high
temperatures in a solar-concentrating tower. A solar-concentrating
tower is a large pillar surrounded by reflectors that focus sunlight
on a chamber in the pillar.
The carbon dioxide generated in the process can be converted
to water and carbon monoxide using hydrogen extracted from water with
solar-generated electricity. This keeps the process from emitting
The simulation shows that the solar-concentrating-tower process
uses 33 percent of the biomass and 38 percent of the total land compared
to today's biofuel processes.
Building a solar-concentrating tower is expensive, and the
biofuel process is economically viable at intermediate biomass and
carbon dioxide prices.
Biomass Gasification Process for a 3rd Generation Biofuel
Environmental Science & Technology, published online April
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