ExxonMobil is teaming up with the University of Wisconsin to solve one of the toughest problems in biofuels; how to produce affordable energy by turning cellulosic biomass into fuel.
ExxonMobil’s Energy Factor reports:
Work is underway to study the conversion of cellulosic biomass such as corncobs, switchgrass and wood chips into diesel and jet fuel. It sounds like a witch’s brew, but it’s true—researchers are working on a cheaper and faster way to convert cellulosic biomass into biofuels, a critical first step toward possibly scaling biofuel production for commercial use.
So what is cellulosic biomass? Well, you see it every day. It’s everything from energy crops to wood residue—materials that are inedible, and sometimes considered waste. The use of cellulosic biomass for biofuels could help avoid significant issues associated with traditional biomass sources that produce biofuels, like corn, which could be also used for food.
Additionally, fuels made from cellulosic biomass could be lower in greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, though, a lot of that potential remains uncertain. Breakthroughs require scientific research collaborations—much like the one inked by the University of Wisconsin and ExxonMobil—to provide the fundamental knowledge required to move the science forward.
When it comes to turning cellulosic biomass into energy, the University of Wisconsin is one of the country’s leading research hubs. The school was looking for a collaborator that knew about biofuels and a thing or two about refining. ExxonMobil, which knows a good amount about both, turned out to be the ideal choice.
Read more here.