Development of competitive, next generation biofuels from municipal solid waste
The objective of BioRen is to develop techno-economical competitive drop-in biofuels for road transport from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW). A higher value fuel is targeted, glycerol tertiary butyl ether (GTBE), which is a promising fuel additive to both diesel and gasoline that improves engine performance and cuts harmful exhaust emissions (i.e. fine dust). It can be blended in higher amounts than, for example, ethanol, without having to change the engine. Bio-ethanol and bio-isobutanol from OFMSW are required intermediaries in this innovation path towards GTBE.
Their specific business case as second generation drop-in fuel will be compared to the bio-GTBE business case, to select the most sustainable option for building a demonstration plant. The project will develop a pretreatment method, industrial 2G Saccharomyces strains that produce ethanol and isobutanol respectively and chemical dehydration to convert isobutanol into isobutene. The isobutene is converted into GTBE by adding Category 1 glycerol, another problematic waste stream. The resulting fuels (ethanol, isobutanol and GTBE) will be tested in engine tests to provide feedback regarding their performance, emission results and fuel use.
This ambitious project is continuously monitored by LCA, techno-economic, market and regulatory and IP analysis in order to come up with a realistic business plan. The developed processes will be integrated in a revolutionary MSW treatment plant that combines the most efficient technologies of material reuse, and is currently looking into optimising the profitability of its organic waste fraction. The project consortium has all the required players to succeed: 3 RTO’s address the research challenges, 7 SMEs either bring in their technological developments or are a scale-up partner that bring the processes to minimum TRL5. The project is led by a financial consultancy that invests in the MSW demonstration treatment plant.