Under the leadership of Profs. Moti Herskowitz and Miron Landau a novel, one-stage process has been developed – up to the mini-pilot level – to produce renewable diesel from a variety of vegetable and animal oils. The project was sponsored by one of the major renewable-energy companies. This second-generation diesel fuel contains mostly hydrocarbons with <10% aromatics and no sulfur. Therefore, its properties are excellent: high cetane number, low cloud point, excellent lubricity and stability, and reasonable density. NOx and particulate emission measured in preliminary engine tests were much lower than the values measured with regular diesel. The technology is compatible with currently existing engine technologies and fuel distribution systems and can be applied for neat (pure) fuel. Two pending patents cover the novelty of the renewable diesel and the process. This process was further modified to produce jet-fuel.
A major project in the production of liquid fuels from syngas (CO and hydrogen mixture) was sponsored by one of the large international oil companies. The first stage of a project aimed at converting ethanol into a gasoline-type fuel has just been completed.
Preliminary experiments have been initiated for the conversion of cellulosic biomass to liquid fuels. The catalytic hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to liquid hydrocarbons has been relatively under-investigated. Most of the work published in the literature is related to hydrogenation of carbon monoxide (Fischer-Tropsch). Development of an active, selective and stable catalyst operating in a proper reactor is an enormous challenge. Iron is the most promising basis for development of such a catalyst with emphasis on FexC carbide active phases and relevant contributions of metallic iron and iron oxides surfaces. Preliminary results collected at The Blechner Center show that implementation of FexC based nanostructured catalytic materials yield high selectivity to liquid hydrocarbons. The collected information will form a basis for selection of highly active and C6+ selective catalysts for further optimization of reactor configuration and operation mode.