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KU Leuven demonstrates production of biogasoline with integration into existing refineries; potential large-scale production

In 2014, at KU Leuven’s Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, researchers succeeded in converting sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. A chemical process made it possible to convert the cellulose in the sawdust into hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline. (Earlier post.)

The researchers have now how industry could integrate this process to produce cellulosic biogasoline in large quantities. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Energy.

Here we demonstrate the production of biogasoline with a direct upstream integration into processes in existing petrorefinery facilities that targets the 10% bio-based carbon in accordance with the current European Union directives (for 2020) for biofuels.

To achieve this goal, we show the valorization of (hemi)cellulose pulp into light naphtha using a two-phase (H2O:organic) catalytic slurry process. A C5–C6 alkane stream, enriched with bio-derived carbon and compatible with further downstream petrorefinery operations for (bio)gasoline production, is automatically obtained by utilizing fossil light straight run naphtha as the organic phase.

The ease of integration pleads for a joint petro/bio effort to gradually produce bio-enriched gasolines, wherein the chemical compounds of the bio-derived fraction are indistinguishable from those in current high-quality gasoline compositions.

—Deneyer et al.

Schematic representation of a petrorefinery with upstream integration of the LPCtoN technology. LPCtoN enriches a petrochemical stream (gold) with renewable bio-naphtha (C5–C6 (green), and thus chemically identical molecules) before its processing in an existing LSR isomerization unit of the petrorefinery. In line with European Union directives, an integration of 10% bio-derived carbon in transportation fuels by 2020 is the aim. Current bio- enrichment is done by ethanol blending downstream (below right). LSR, light straight run naphtha; HSR, heavy straight run naphtha; FCC, fluid catalytic cracking; LPG, liquid petroleum gas; LPCtoN, liquid phase cellulose-to-naphtha. Deneyer et al.


  • Aron Deneyer, Elise Peeters, Tom Renders, Sander Van den Bosch, Nette Van Oeckel, Thijs Ennaert, Tibor Szarvas, Tamás I. Korányi, Michiel Dusselier & Bert F. Sels (2018) “Direct upstream integration of biogasoline production into current light straight run naphtha petrorefinery processes” Nature Energy doi:



10%.  They're aiming for 10%, when the minimum cut in fossil carbon emissions to stabilize the climate is 80%.

They aren't even trying.  Fixing the problem means going big, and they have defined every feasible way of going big as wrongthink.


Sawdust is a consistent feedstock, so is lignin from cellulose ethanol.


The 10% target by 2020 just 2 years away is a big ask for a proposed technology and would probably be mostly met by a combination of existing techs with some contribution by this process.
While the medium term say 2030 /40 target needs to be closer to 80% F.F.free, and is likely to represent international goals, the remaining 20% fossil derived fuel should be understood as a part of a diminished market for fossil fuels owing to electrified transport uptake. If electrification reached 50% then liquid fuels would be down to10%. Of course the recalcitrant governments and their industry donors will not act in the publics interests unless the public insist.

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