A process for turning everyday waste into gasoline, developed through the Texas A&M University System, has been licensed to Byogy Renewables Inc. and could become a reality within two years. Researchers with the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), the engineering research agency of the State of Texas, developed the process to make converting biomass into high-octane gasoline possible, and say it is possibly the only integrated system that does so, as most other emerging processes convert the biomass into alcohol and then blend it with gasoline.
The system is relatively inexpensive and focuses on using biomass waste streams and non-food energy crops, rather than food products such as corn. Excluding all government subsidies and tax credits, and dependent on the type and cost of feedstock and size of the biorefinery, the researchers said that the cost would lie between US$1.70 and US$2.00 per gallon.
Biomass includes garbage, biosolids from wastewater treatment plants, green waste such as lawn clippings, food waste, and any type of livestock manure. The process could also utilize non-food and non-feed crops grown specifically for biomass energy.
Byogy hopes to have a plant using the technology up and running within 18 months to two years. The focus at the initial plant would be on using urban waste, which the plant would grind, sort and then convert to gasoline that could be immediately used as a drop-in substitute to the current petroleum gasoline supply with seamless integration into the existing fuel distribution infrastructure, with no changes to retail gas stations, pipelines, fuel terminals or motor vehicles. A team led by Professor Mahmoud El-Halwagi of Texas A&M University’s Department of Chemical Engineering has been assembled to conduct the initial process of integration work.