Friday, August 19, 2011

Biofuels Infrastructure: Berkeley's New Lab for Demonstration of Advanced Biomass to Biofuels Technologies and Processes

When it comes to the best way of making advanced biofuels, scientists, engineers, and industrialists are still working their way up the learning curve. The entire enterprise may have received a big boost recently, when Lawrence Berkely National Labs opened its shiny new Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU). The ABPDU will let researchers try a large number of different approaches to making advanced biofuels from biomass -- and at a large enough scale to test the fuels in different engines and powerplants.
Berkeley Lab’s ABPDU will feature pre-treatment of biomass capabilities and bioreactors for the production of microbial or fungal enzymes that can break down biomass into fermentable sugars. The facility will also have substantial capabilities for fermentation or further conversion of sugars into advanced biofuels, along with the capacity to purify these fuels.

...Jay Keasling, Berkeley Lab’s Associate Director for Biosciences, noted that the design capacity of the ABPDU is 45-to-90 kilograms/day for biomass pretreatment and 11-to-20 liters per day for biofuels production. These quantities are sufficient for engine testing.
Scaling the production of advanced biofuels from liter quantities to tens of liters can be a huge challenge. The ABPDU will help us meet that challenge.
—Jay Keasling
Major use of the ABPDU is expected to be made by researchers with DOE’s three Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs). _GCC

The East Bay area is rapidly becoming a highly active center for advanced biomass to fuels and biomass to chemicals development and production. It is becoming a "Cellulose Valley" of sorts, to compete with Silicon Valley located to the southwest across the bay.

The revolutionary potential of biomass is vastly underestimated on a daily basis by mainstream energy and industrial analysts. That is how it usually works with incrementally disruptive technologies which hide in plain site.



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