Joseph Kocal and Jennifer Holmgren. UOP, 50 East Algonquin Road, Des Plaines, IL 60017
Government policy is driving substitution of petroleum feedstocks by biologically derived feedstocks. However, as biofuels become increasingly pervasive, the debate over the potential of biofuels to become a sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels continues. Much of this debate is accentuated by life cycle analyses of biofuel production routes, including low yields of biofuels from crops that would otherwise be used for food production, the poor energy balance for producing some biofuels and a lack of production and distribution networks. Ameliorating these risks are the intensive efforts underway to develop technologies that can process 2nd generation feedstocks such as agricultural residues and forest wastes as well as inedible and algal oils. The long term sustainability of a biofuels industry will be largely driven by the availability of these 2nd generation feedstocks and the technologies to process them.