Netherlands university plans innovative biofuel project

By Erin Voegele | November 22, 2011

Netherlands-based Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) recently announced it intends to manufacture advanced biofuels from wood waste. According to information released by the university, fuel pumps will be installed on campus in the future to allow staff to fill their vehicles with biobased diesel or gasoline fuels.

The scope of the project includes the development of a small-scale reactor that will be capable of processing up to 40 tons of waste wood biomass per year. Feedstock for the project will be sourced from waste materials, such as pallets and wood packaging. According to TU/e, the project aims to demonstrate the viability of small-scale fuel production at competitive prices.

One of the biofuels that will be produced in the new reactor is CyclOx, a diesel variant that TU/e has patented. It will be offered in a blend with standard diesel fuel.  Information published by the university states that CyclOx fuel, which has been shown to drastically reduce soot emissions, is being further developed by a TU/e spinoff called Progression-Industry BV.

“The principle of CyclOx is that it delays the start of combustion, giving the fuel mixture of air and diesel fuel more time to mix thoroughly,” said TU/e in a press release announcing the project. “This in turn results in a cleaner combustion process. In addition, this fuel meets the planned EU standard which specifies that fuels must have 10 percent biofuel content in 2020.”

According to TU/e, the first phase of the project will include the installation of fuel pumps, which is scheduled for 2012. The CyclOx fuel blend will initially be available to a select test group, which will track the short-term and long-term effects of the fuel blend. During this phase of the project the CyclOx will be produced by a third party using nonbiomass feedstock.

While the road tests are being completed, university researchers will be working to demonstrate the process by which CyclOx can be produced from biomass. The plant is currently scheduled to be operational by mid-2015.

 “I hope other universities and organizations will follow our example at TU/e”, says Michael Boot, the project’s leader. “It’s also high time for industry to become enthusiastic about this pilot project. But we can’t expect industry to embrace our technology if we don’t first do the same ourselves.”