Karlsruhe, Germany – Fuel made from straw may become a reality through “BioBoost,” a project coordinated by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) involving six research institutions and seven industrial partners from across Europe.

The project, which will begin in early 2012, aims to convert residual biomass into energy carriers for the production of high-quality, engine-compatible fuels and chemicals, as well as for the generation of electricity and heat. The BioBoost research will complement work KIT is already doing to produce fuels for diesel and Otto engines from biogenous residues such as straw.

The project was chosen for funding under the seventh European Union Research Framework Programme. The project will last for three and a half years, with the EU funding a total of nearly €5 million and with KIT granted nearly €1 million.

The BioBoost process consists of several steps, starting with concentrating the energy, since residual biomass such as straw contains only a small amount of energy. The residues are converted into coke and oil by prolysis or carbonization, and those products mixed to form energy-rich intermediate products that contain up to 90 per cent of the energy stored in the biomass.

These products can be economically and efficiently transported to a central location for further processing, where they are subject to large-scale use in a second step. In addition to fuels such as diesel, gasoline or kerosene, scientists will also investigate the production of chemicals such as methanol, ethylene and propylene, as well as plastics.

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