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This new process makes biogasoline from carbohydrates

By Gerald Ondrey |

In late March, the world’s first demonstration plant for converting sugars directly into gasoline started up at the Madison, Wisc., facilities of Virent Energy Systems, Inc. (www.virent.com). The demonstration plant — part of a joint R&D collaboration of Virent and Shell (The Hague, the Netherlands; www.shell.com) — has the capacity to produce 10,000 gal/yr of biogasoline from beet sugar or other sucrose sources using Virent’s patented BioForming platform technology. The BioForming platform (flowsheet) combines Virent’s core aqueous-phase reforming (APR) technology with conventional catalytic processing technologies, such as hydrotreating, condensation, dehydration and alkylation depending on the desired hydrocarbon product (gasoline, kerosene or diesel). The production of biogasoline in the demonstration plant includes feed preparation, hydrogenation, aqueous-phase reforming and acid condensation. The APR step uses proprietary heterogeneous catalysts in series and parallel reactors operating at moderate temperatures (450–575K) and pressures (10–90 bar) to reduce the oxygen content of the carbohydrate feedstock. Reactions include reforming to make hydrogen, dehydrogenation of alcohols,…
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