BICONVERSION OF COAL SYNGAS TO FUEL OXYGENATES

Period of Performance: 01/01/1992 - 12/31/1992

$500K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Engineering Resources, Inc.
P.o. Box 3682, Biomass, Research Center Hwy112
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Principal Investigator

Abstract

GASOLINE BLENDED WITH FUEL OXYGENATES PRODUCED FROM COAL HASSEVERAL SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGES OVER CONVENTIONAL GASOLINE, INCLUDING REDUCED POLLUTANT EMISSIONS, LESS DEPENDENCE ON IMPORTED OIL, AND INCREASED OCTANE QUALITY. ALCOHOLS AND ETHERS HAVE RECEIVED PRIMARY INTEREST AS FUEL OXYGENATES BECAUSE THESE MATERIALS ARE AVAILABLE IN LARGE QUANTITIES. KETONES AND DIOLS, VERY SIMILAR TO ETHERS AND ALCOHOLS IN CHEMICAL STRUCTURE AND THERMODYNAMIC BEHAVIOR, MAY BE PRODUCED BIOLOGICALLY FROM COAL SYNTHESIS GAS AND MAY BE SUPERIOR FUEL ADDITIVES. THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT IS TO INVESTIGATE A SIMPLE BIOCATALYTIC PROCESS TO PRODUCE KETONES AND DIOLS FROM COAL SYNTHESIS GAS. BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES OPERATE AT ORDINARY CONDITIONS WITH LOW CAPITAL AND ENERGY REQUIREMENTS. MICROORGANISMS CAN PRODUCE OXYGENATES FROM CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) AND WATER, AS WELL AS FROM CARBON DIOXIDE AND HYDROGEN, AND TOTAL CONVERSION OF COAL IS POSSIBLE. MICROORGANISMS ARE ALSO QUITE SPECIFIC IN PRODUCING A SINGLE PRODUCT, SO THAT HIGH YIELDS FROM SYNTHESIS GAS ARE POSSIBLE. THE MAJOR AIM OF THIS PROJECT IS TO DETERMINE THE TECHNICAL AND ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY OF BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES TO PRODUCE KETONES OR DIOLS FROM SYNTHESIS GAS. IN PHASE I OF THIS PROJECT, CULTURES ARE BEING SCREENED TO IDENTIFY THE BEST ORGANISMS FOR USE IN CONTINUOUS REACTORS TO DEFINE REACTION KINETICS AND TO PROVIDE DATA FOR ECONOMIC PROJECTIONS.