September 2011

Special Report: Refining Developments

Fast track to fuel — getting the right mix

An innovative application of biology and chemical engineering cuts time and cost out of biofuel production

Luce, G. W., Terrabon, L.L.C.

Many people believe biofuels are a fairly new idea, but the fact is engineers and scientists have been working on ways to convert biological feedstocks to viable engine fuels for many years. Some processes, such as the well-known Fischer-Tropsch synfuel process, have been around for almost a century, spurred by Germany’s high demand, combined with a limited supply of traditional hydrocarbon fuels. Today a variation on the Fischer-Tropsch process is the basis for gas-to-liquid conversion as a way to harvest stranded gas or solution gas recovered in oil production and convert it to a compatible liquid for mixing into the liquid flowstream. But the technique can also be used in a thermo

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