NREL Announces Five Year Collaboration on Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will be partnering with global specialty chemicals company, Johnson Matthey, in order to develop new ways to lower the costs of biofuel production.

NREL and Johnson Matthey have entered into a five-year, $7 million partnership as an effort to economically produce drop-in gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from non-food biomass feedstocks, which will be conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the two organizations. The main goal will be to improve vapor phase upgrading during the biomass pyrolysis process in order to lower costs and speed production of lignocellulose-based fuels.

“We’re delighted to be collaborating with NREL in this exciting field,” Andrew Heavers, Business Development Director for New Technologies at Johnson Matthey, said. “Combining Johnson Matthey’s understanding of catalysis with NREL’s biomass processing capabilities will help accelerate the development of more economic routes to biofuels.”

The non-food derived feedstocks used to produce the biofuels will vary from fast-growing poplar or pine trees to switch grass, forest and agriculture residue and municipal solid waste. The vapor produced from the pyrolysis of biomass can be used to make transportation fuel, if industry can efficiently convert it into the hydrocarbons similar to petroleum-based fuels used in modern engines.

Pyrolysis involves thermally decomposing organic materials using heat and pressure in the absence of oxygen. Pyrolysis vapors can contain carbon that can be condensed into oil, but impurities in that condensed oil is not suitable for engine use, or even readily converted into a fuel. This CRADA will develop catalytic materials that can convert these vapors into liquid fuels that can be used in cars, trucks, train engines, and jets.

Download Center

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Streamline Your Air Emissions Management

    See how consolidating all your emissions management functions into one centralized system can help you streamline your operations, more easily maintain compliance, and achieve greater time and cost savings.

  • A Crash Course in Creating the Right Environmental Scoring System

    Learn how to develop the right environmental scoring system so you can easily benchmark performance across all your facilities and gain a holistic view of your environmental programs.

  • Industry Safe