An EU-backed project to produce a sustainable diesel mixable biofuel (DMB) could signal the end of imported fossil fuels for use in car engines.
The DIBANET (Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches Network) project is a 42-month global initiative aimed at reducing Europe and South America's reliance on imported fossil fuels while minimising the growing amounts of waste sent to landfill.
With a total budget of €3.7m (£3.3m), researchers hope they will do this by developing new technologies for improving the production of ethyl-levulinate (EL) from organic wastes and residues. A further area of the project will look at new ways of producing diesel and gasoline through fast pyrolysis.
Prof Tony Bridgwater, who is leading Aston University's involvement in the project, said: 'We are going to be taking a multi-pronged approach. The project started in July and we are still at an early stage, but at the end of the research we hope to have developed a sustainable biofuel that can be mixed with fossil diesel, allowing for mass biofuel production within the next decade.'
Fast pyrolysis involves separating the sugars from the celluloise within the biomass and fermenting them using specialist micro-organisms. The residue is a crude product, which will be one of the feedstocks the team will be using to produce a greener form of gasoline.
'The reason this project and biomass is so important is that all of our transport at the moment is based on high-carbon crude oil,' said Bridgwater. 'If you want to make hydro-carbon-based fuels, the only renewable source is biomass. Most of the technologies to do this are known but it's a case of developing them and integrating them in a more efficient way.'