Nav: Home

Researchers produce biofuel for conventional diesel engines

June 19, 2017

In accordance with an EU directive, conventional automotive diesel is supplemented with seven percent biodiesel. This proportion is set to rise to ten percent by 2020. However, this presents a significant technical challenge: biodiesel vaporises at higher temperatures, which can lead to problems with electronic fuel injection systems and particulate filters. Researchers from Kaiserslautern, Bochum, and Rostock have developed a method for producing a petroleum diesel-like fuel from conventional biodiesel at low temperatures. The new biofuel fulfils the current EU and US requirements. It can be used undiluted in modern diesel engines or mixed in any ratio with petroleum diesel. The researchers present their work in the prestigious journal Science Advances.

In Europe, biodiesel is largely produced from rapeseed oil. Chemically, it comprises long-chain hydrocarbon compounds, known as fatty acid methyl esters. It has different properties to diesel obtained from mineral oil. For instance, the boiling point is much higher. This means biodiesel tends to vaporise only partially, and to form deposits on engine components. This makes pure biodiesel unsuitable as a fuel for standard engines. Injection pumps, seals, and pipes would need to be constructed differently. "Cars fuelled with pure biodiesel require specially designed engines," explains Dr Lukas Gooßen.

In collaboration with chemists Kai Pfister and Sabrina Baader from the collaborative research centre "3MET" at the University of Kaiserslautern, Gooßen has developed an innovative technique for treating biodiesel. "With virtually no energy input, we convert a mixture of plant-derived fatty esters and bio-ethylene, another chemical compound, into fuel," the professor says. "This can be combusted undiluted in modern diesel engines."

The particular advantage of this new technique is that the researchers are able to precisely adjust the chemical properties of the mixture. "We combine two catalytic methods to transform the long-chain fatty esters into a mixture of compounds with shorter chains," he elaborates. This process changes the ignition and combustion properties of the biodiesel. Combustion starts at lower temperatures. "We are thus able to adjust our biodiesel to the applicable standards for petroleum diesel," Gooßen adds. Moreover, the process is environmentally friendly: it neither requires solvents, nor produces waste.

The two methods were synchronised with each other using mathematical simulations by Mathias Baader from the University of Kaiserslautern. Silvia Berndt at the University of Rostock proved that the mixture complies with the strict standard (EN 590) for modern diesel engines. In preliminary test runs, Kai Pfister has managed to demonstrate that this new diesel fuel can actually power a model car.

The research was carried out within the collaborative research centre "3MET" (SFB/TRR 88 "Cooperative Effects in Homo and Heterometallic Complexes") at the University of Kaiserslautern and the cluster of excellence Resolv (Ruhr Explores Solvation) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. It was also supported by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and the Carl Zeiss Foundation.

Gooßen holds the Evonik Chair of Organic Chemistry at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Until last year, he was professor at the University of Kaiserslautern, where the new technology was developed. His graduate students Kai Pfister and Sabrina Baader have successfully completed their doctoral work and are now pursuing careers in industry.
-end-


Ruhr-University Bochum

Related Biodiesel Articles:

Eco-friendly biodiesel from palm oil?
Vegetable oil biofuels are increasingly used as an alternative to fossil fuels despite the growing controversy regarding their sustainability.
Towards sustainability -- from a by-product of the biodiesel industry to a valuable chemical
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) develop a cheap and efficient copper-based catalyst that can be used to convert glycerol, one of the main by-products of the biodiesel industry, into a valuable compound called dihydroxyacetone.
Efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels from glucose
Researchers have presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production.
Using E. coli to create bioproducts, like biodiesel, in a cost-effective manner
LSU mechanical engineering graduate student Tatiana Mello of Piracicaba, Brazil, is currently working on genetically engineering and optimizing E. coli bacteria to produce bioproducts, like biodiesel, in a cost-effective manner.
Metal-free catalyst extends the range of ester synthesis
A Japanese research team at Nagoya University created a versatile, metal-free catalyst for trans-esterification.
Researchers produce biofuel for conventional diesel engines
In accordance with an EU directive, conventional automotive diesel is supplemented with seven percent biodiesel.
New breakthrough makes it easier to turn old coffee waste into cleaner biofuels
Future Americano, cappuccino and latte drinkers could help produce the raw material for a greener biofuel that would reduce our reliance on diesel from fossil fuels.
Fast, low energy, and continuous biofuel extraction from microalgae
Researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan used a nanosecond pulsed electric field to extract hydrocarbons from microalgae.
Scientists engineer sugarcane to produce biodiesel, more sugar for ethanol
A multi-institutional team led by the University of Illinois have proven sugarcane can be genetically engineered to produce oil in its leaves and stems for biodiesel production.
Dual-purpose biofuel crops could extend production, increase profits
Dual-purpose biofuel crops could extend production by two months, decreasing the cost of each gallon of fuel and increasing profits by as much as 30 percent.
More Biodiesel News and Biodiesel Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.