Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol.62, 138-148, 2014
Biomass conversion to hydrocarbon fuels using the MixAlco (TM) process at a pilot-plant scale
Texas A&M University has built a MixAlco(TM) pilot plant that converts biomass to hydrocarbons (i.e., jet fuel, gasoline) using the following steps: fermentation, descumming, dewatering, thermal ketonization, distillation, hydrogenation, and oligomerization. This study describes the pilot plant and reports results from an 11-month production campaign. The focus was to produce sufficient jet fuel to be tested by the U.S. military. Because the scale was relatively small, energy-saving features were not included in the pilot plant. Further, the equipment was operated in a manner to maximize productivity even if yields were low. During the production campaign, a total of 6.015 Mg of shredded paper and 120 kg of chicken manure (dry basis) were fermented to produce 126.5 m(3) of fermentation broth with an average concentration of 12.5 kg m (3). A total of 1582 kg of carboxylate salts were converted to 587 L of raw ketones, which were distilled and hydrogenated to 470 L of mixed alcohols ranging from C3 to C12. These alcohols, plus 300 L of alcohols made by an industrial partner (Terrabon, Inc.) were shipped to an independent contractor (General Electric) and transformed to jet fuel (similar to 100 L) and gasoline (similar to 100 L) byproduct. Published by Elsevier Ltd.