There is rising interest in biofuels as the world turns to clean liquid fuels that help address energy security and global warming concerns. Research reveals the global biofuel market will likely reach $153.8 billion by 2024. In 2020, global biofuel production grew to reach 1,677,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, compared to 187,000 barrels of oil equivalent produced 20 years ago.
Today, there are several technologies available to produce biofuels and enhance production. This article looks at the most viable technologies for producing biofuels from biomass stock and the benefits of digitization in the biofuel industry.
What Are the Sources of Biofuels Produced?
Biofuels come from primary crops classified as sugar (sugarcane), starch (corn), and oilseed (palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower) feedstocks. UCO (Used Cooking Oil) is projected to be the dominant source of organic oil, due to the high carbon content and the banning of sources like palm oil and other environmentally sensitive sources. There are also several advanced biofuel feedstocks under research made up of fast-growing trees, short-rotation woody crops, and perennial grasses, such as switchgrass. After production, the biofuels used for transportation are blended into conventional petroleum fuel sources, like diesel and gasoline.
Technologies Used to Produce Biofuels
Biochemical processes leverage chemicals, enzymes, and microorganisms to break down feedstocks into components used to produce biofuels. First-generation feedstocks, like corn and sugarcane, have readily available sugars fermented to produce biofuels.
Other advanced sources, like fast-growing trees and switchgrass that are fibrous in nature, must break down further to extract cellulose. Notably, bioethanol is the most produced biofuel used as a fuel additive for petroleum gasoline. The following are some of the commonly used technologies to produce biofuels.
The fermentation process creates chemical changes in sugarcane and starchy plants, such as corn. During the procedure, bacteria convert sugars to carbon dioxide. The mash then goes through a distillation process that extracts ethanol and carbon dioxide from water.
Transesterification is a technology used to produce biodiesel from animal fats or plant oils. During the procedure, alcohol, such as methane or ethanol, mixes in the presence of a catalyst, such as an enzyme, acid, or alkali. The transesterification processes help lower oil-producing biodiesel and glycerol's viscosity and oxygen content.
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is a process that helps produce diverse carbon-containing feedstocks, like coal, natural gas, and biomass. The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis produces hydrocarbons refined to create a range of fuels and chemicals, such as diesel, gasoline, kerosene, liquid petroleum gas, methane, and ethane.
Benefits of Digitization in the Biofuel Industry
As the demand for biofuels grows to outstrip the supply, the biofuel industry is turning to digitization to raise productivity, cut waste, and maximize efficiency. The following are some benefits of digitization in the biofuel industry.
Improve the Integrity of Feedstock Materials
Digitization tools help improve the feedstock chain of collection audit for improved value. The tools specifically designed for the industry can capture and record crucial information about feedstocks, including their origin, the volume collected at the harvesting site compared to received volume, and the amount of waste feedstock.
Boost Communication with Suppliers
Digital tools provide real-time communication capabilities, so you find out where your feedstock suppliers are at any specified time. This optimizes supply chain information to plan for and prevent costly supply chain disruptions. It also eases the sourcing process, enabling managers to get a 360-degree view of the entire supply chain system.
For the industry to meet the rising demand for biofuels, factories need to keep their facilities up longer. Digitization helps managers be proactive about maintenance rather than reacting to breakdowns and downtime. A recent report reveals a large-scale facility that had to digitize its maintenance saw an 80% drop in unexpected downtime.
Rise in Productivity
Digital technology helps the workforce enhance productivity, efficiency, and business outcome. It allows factories to comply with and respond to rapid and continuous changes in the biofuel industry. Digitization backed by smart technologies helps streamline workflows by taking away mundane, repetitive tasks from teams, so they focus their time and energy on more critical and value-driven activities.
Regarding biofuel product development, digitization helps drive innovation by reducing the time from development to market. Leveraging real-time data, product development processes can align quickly to meet changing demands. Higher tech data can predict critical trends likely to impact the industry.
How Aegex Can Help Biofuel Processors
Aegex provides digitization tools that capture crucial information on feedstocks to provide an accurate bill of lading for customers, increasing value by providing a digital record of feedstock collection sources and carbon intensity score.
The audit trail of feedstock materials sourced can help you determine the value of the raw materials and charge a higher price for your end product. These tools can help biofuel players obtain insights to develop policies that guarantee oil quality and accountability of sources. Contact us to learn more.