What is a biofuel?
In the early 1970´s there was the start of Biofuels research in the EU for alternative fuels that could give energy security, self-sufficiency and CO2 reduction & proven GHG (Green House Gas) – savings (especially in transport sector). Due to the consecutive oil crises where the EU was strongly dependent on fossil fuels and in order to meet sustainability goals, the EU took an active approach to promote the use of biofuels as a clean alternative fuels
There are many different kinds of Biofuels. In general, Biofuels can be separated according to its state (liquid or gaseous), its feedstock source and also to its technology level.
Find below an example of different Biofuels
BDI – BioEnergy International AG, is an Austrian based engineering company, specialising in the engineering of plants for the processing of renewable resources. The core competence of BDI is the development, engineering and construction of optimised processes for the production of a biodegradable, environmentally friendly reducing CO2 emissions Biofuels for engines (”Biodiesel” and “BioGas”). During the last 20 years, BDI and its researchers have initiated many innovations in the field of biofuels BioDiesel & BioGas production and with the realisation of numerous reference plants worldwide, BDI established a unique position as world-market leader for Multi-Feedstock BioDiesel technology. The BDI Multi-Feedstock technology on the one hand allows the use of crude vegetable oils (e.g. rapeseed oil, soybean oil, palm oil), cooking oil and animal fats as feedstock, and on the other hand achieves highest yield by converting all free fatty acids into BioDiesel. Together with its subsidiary UIC GmbH, BDI is also active in the field of vacuum distillation. UIC GmbH supplies equipment and components for the gentle distillation of liquid mixtures in both rough and fine vacuum. In the Life Science segment, BDI creates with its fully-owned subsidiary BDI – BioLife Science GmbH new standards in the production of valuable algae-based products. This innovation enables the development of processes and equipment of the production and use of algae biomass.
There is tremendous potential for BioGas plants in the creation of added value from biologically degradable waste. An anaerobic process for turning organic waste (example: spent grains from the beer production) into BioGas gives industry new possibilities:
- 100% green energy to meet own demand (heat & electricity) using BioGas
- Greater independence from energy prices
- Reduce their oil / natural gas consumption
- Savings in CO2 emissions
Can any diesel car use a biodiesel fuel or are special modifications needed?
The utilization of fuels from renewable raw materials is tax exempt if it is used as sole (bio-) fuel at 100% or up to 5-10% Biodiesel blended with fossil diesel fuel. Initially mainly rapeseed and occasionally sunflower oil was tested as feedstock, but last year’s low-cost recycled frying oil UCO and fats are increasingly used successfully. The required product quality is defined by EN 14214 FAME.
In Europe mainly biodiesel blends of up to 7% by volume according to EN 14214 quality standard will be used. Up to this level there is no permission from car manufacturers or modifications for cars necessary. For fuels with biodiesel blends of greater than 7% or for use of B100, permissions of car manufacturers have to be given to keep warranty. When using B100 in cars, preheating equipment in the fuel lines as well as new sealing materials for the fuel system need to be used.
As part of the project “ECODRIVE” in Graz, Used Cooking Oil was collected and transformed into high-quality Biodiesel fuel in a BDI plant. It was used as B100 fuel for public transport in Graz.
Does biofuel have any C02 emissions in its production or use?
Biofuels like biodiesel have CO2 emissions like conventional diesel when burned, but because of its renewable nature of the feedstock’s the majority of these CO2 emissions will be recovered in the growing phase of the feedstock. However, during biofuel production CO2 is also generated (by growing, harvesting, manufacturing, distributing). Nevertheless, the overall CO2 emissions of biofuels are considerably lower compared to its fossil-fuel counterparts. Therefore, the EU has highlighted the CO2 reduction potential from using biodiesel and other types of biofuels compared to using conventional diesel or gasoline. Typical reduction potentials based on the feedstock source can be found in the in the renewable energy directive (2009/28/EG) in Annex V. Especially waste based biofuels like biodiesel originated from UCO/animal fat provide the highest CO2 reduction potentials compared to mineral oil diesel.
Can you see a future where a city like Skopje could generate electricity from biofuel?
The sector of waste recycling is still being developed and will increase with separated waste collection activities. According to the latest data, 73% of collected waste is dumped to landfill, 0% goes to incineration plants and 23% is separate collated and are recyclables (glass, plastic).
We need to follow all actors along the value chain, collection processes, appropriate regulatory framework, to create incentives for waste prevention and recycling, as well the public investments (tendering) in facilities for waste treatment. Recycling and re-use of waste are economically attractive options for public and private investors due to the fees for a collection and market for secondary raw materials, where all actors can see profit.
In the SEE 28% of organic waste material is not being re-used for energy, only one small part is reused which is related to the consumption of animal food (slaughterhouse waste – rendering, brewery waste and sugar production waste). However, in the SEE countries statistics say that 90 million tons of food waste every year is dumped. Much of this is valuable waste, which is suitable for ENERGY generation.
The main strategic issue is that the organic waste input is used for generating biofuels and energy and composting production, as well as the inorganic waste is recycled and reused. Another pillar of the future strategy needs to be complete integration, which depends on initiating the waste management process at homes through separation and following it “step by step” until it is abated in landfills. A fully integrated waste management model starts with the education of households and municipalities on how to differentiate and separate different kinds of waste and is followed by collection, separation, recycling, pre-anaerobic digestion treatment and implementing.
Biogas utilization in the electricity sector is represented in the Republic of Macedonia tentatively and was planned to generate 5 GWh of electricity with the use of anaerobic biogas technologies, in 2013 in the draft of NREAP, but energy statistics today show zero production. Marginally, the Republic of Macedonia report some biofuels deployment in the transport sector and indicate a very small production of biofuels. Therefore, to compensate for market failures, renewable energy needs a set of support measures and regulatory and administrative rules to ensure their proper development in order to reach the 2020 policy objectives. I hope that Skopje will take decisions to move faster in that direction and besides the benefits of further income from selling the renewable energy, cooperation with EU Member States could be beneficial in terms of know-how transfer, jobs creation, increased security of supply and technological innovation. Simplification and streamlining of administrative procedures and grid integration of renewable energy are key aspects in this respect.
BDI recently won an award for its BioCrack technology, can you explain what is unique about Biocrack?
BDI succeeded in qualifying for this award from among more than 300 submissions nationwide with its project “BDI bioCRACK; A globally unique process for generating 2nd generation biofuels” and received the prestigious “VERENA” award.
After years of research and in close cooperation with OMV and the Technical University in Graz BDI has developed an innovative Biomass-to-liquid technology. During the BDI – bioCRACK process, solid Biomass and a high-boiling by-product of mineral oil refineries are converted into diesel fuel with more than 10% biogenic content. This diesel fuel complies with the European diesel-quality standards and can be deployed in diesel engines without any adaptations.
We are very pleased that with our bioCRACK process we have succeeded in developing a simple, cost-efficient BtL-technology which allows reduced greenhouse gas by more than 80%, and which only uses feedstock that does not conflict with the food industry. We have successfully completed the pilot stage and are now looking internationally for a suitable strategic partner for technology application – above all by constructing a demo plant.