Solar energy to biofuels.


In a solar economy, sustainably available biomass holds the potential to be an excellent nonfossil source of high energy density transportation fuel. However, if sustainably available biomass cannot supply the liquid fuel need for the entire transport sector, alternatives must be sought. This article reviews biomass to liquid fuel conversion processes that treat biomass primarily as a carbon source and boost liquid fuel production substantially by using supplementary energy that is recovered from solar energy at much higher efficiencies than the biomass itself. The need to develop technologies for an energy-efficient future sustainable transport sector infrastructure that will use different forms of energy, such as electricity, H(2), and heat, in a synergistic interaction with each other is emphasized. An enabling template for such a future transport infrastructure is presented. An advantage of the use of such a template is that it reduces the land area needed to propel an entire transport sector. Also, some solutions for the transition period that synergistically combine biomass with fossil fuels are briefly discussed.

DOI: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-073009-100955