Cheaper, more sustainable way to produce plastic precursors
Scientists and engineers at UW-Madison developed an economically feasible process to synthesize a possible substitute for petroleum-derived chemicals from non-edible biomass.
This substitute, called 1,5-pentanediol, is a type of alpha, omega-diol that has two alcohol groups attached at the beginning and the end of a long carbon chain, which is mostly synthesized as a byproduct of other commercially produced diols.
Renewable plastic precursor could grow cellulosic biofuel industry
A team of chemical and biological engineers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has found a way to produce from biomass a valuable compound used in plastic production that they estimate could lower the cost of ethanol produced from plant material by more than two dollars per gallon.
The development is the latest in an ongoing effort at UW–Madison to create commodity chemicals currently derived from petroleum out of biomass. These bio-derived chemicals could serve as high value co-products of the biofuels manufacturing process, improving the economics of the cellulosic bio-refinery.
More reaction steps are better for making pentanediol
Creating high-value coproducts along with biofuels is an important part of helping biobased chemicals become economically viable so they can complement petroleum-derived chemicals. But this is a tricky proposition because hundreds of interrelated compounds exist in both the petrochemical and biomass chemical pathways.
The High Lords of Pyrolysis travel under the unlikely cover identities of “George Huber” and “Robert Brown” — but we know them in their true superhero identities of “The Catalyst” and “The Godfatha”.
Of late, they have assembled what might be best described as the Justice League of Pyromaniax — although the various superheroes prefer to stick to their alter egos as everyday academics at a series of prestigious institutions around the world. But we know better.
Anellotech, IFP Energies nouvelles and Axens to develop aromatics technology from non-food biomass (01-19-2015)
Pyromania! Anellotech lands key European partners to commercialize its pyrolysis-based pathway to high-value renewable BTX chemicals.
In New York, Anellotech, IFP Energies nouvelles and its subsidiary Axens have announced a strategic alliance to develop and commercialize a new technology for the low cost production of bio-based benzene, toluene and paraxylene using Anellotech's process of Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis (CFP) of non-food biomass. The technology will address large-scale units and produce purified aromatics streams suitable for modern derivative production processes at a very competitive price with respect to their petroleum-based counterparts.
In today's Digest - the partners, the Anellotech backstory, more in IFPEN and Axen's previous deals in the field; why BTX matters, and what they are, and how the ball got rolling - today at biofuelsdigest.com.
Anellotech ranked amongst "The 40 Hottest Smaller Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy for 2014-15" (11-14-2014)
Anellotech, a biofuel company co-founded by Professor Huber was ranked amongst The 40 Hottest Smaller Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy for 2014-15. The company focuses on commercializing catalytic fast pyrolysis, a technology developed by the Huber research group to convert biomass into gasoline range aromatics. The full list of companies is available here
Major Grant To Fund Research Into Advanced, Economically Viable Bioproducts (10-13-2014)
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota and Argonne National Laboratory will explore ways to produce renewable plastic precursors and other substances from biomass with a recently announced $3.3 million grant from the United States Department of Energy. Read more of this story here
The original announcement from Department of Energy can be found here
Shell Catalysis Conference: Success of the Past - Opportunities for the Future (06-24-2014)
Professor Huber attended and presented at the Shell Centennial Catalysis Conference to celebrate 100 years of catlaysis at Shell in Amsterdam.
Carving out a future for biomass conversion to jet fuel (03-24-2014)
New article! - A pioneering study has proposed a new integrated method for producing aviation fuels from woody feedstock by considering all downstream processing stages and carrying out a detailed economic analysis. Full story can be found here. This is the direct link to the research paper which will be completely free to access and download for a limited period.
Researchers develop efficient, scalable process for making renewable liquid fuels (10-10-2012)
Using simple technology developed primarily for producing electricity from hydrogen, a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology of South Korea has developed what could be a commercially viable, continuous process for converting biomass and electricity into renewable liquid transportation fuels. The original story can be found here.
The research article mentioned in the story : Green, S. K., Tompsett, G. A., Kim, H. J., Kim, W. B. and Huber, G. W. (2012), Electrocatalytic Reduction of Acetone in a Proton-Exchange-Membrane Reactor: A Model Reaction for the Electrocatalytic Reduction of Biomass. ChemSusChem. Link to article
Biochemical Engineering Innovator George Huber Announces Latest Breakthrough (09-12-2012)
George Huber talks about production of renewable aromatic compounds by catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP™) with bifunctional Ga/ZSM-5 catalysts. Products produced from this process fit easily into existing petrochemical infrastructure. The entire article can be found here on ChEnected website
George Huber talks about Aqueous Phase Hydrodeoxygenation of Carbohydrates at CAT4BIO (07-18-2012)
George Huber was one of the invited speakers at the recently held CAT4BIO conference, an international conference on "Advances in catalysis for biomass valorization". The conference was held in Thessaloniki Greece on 8th-11th July, 2012.
Building Green Gas Technology Without a Manual (04-01-2012)
Robert Coolman, a graduate student in Huber group discusses his research experiences in an interview on Livescience.com. The full interview can be found here.
Source: LiveScience (Published: 03-29-2012)
George Huber discusses his latest research in converting biomass at the 243rd ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA (03-27-2012)
Professor Huber is known for his work on developing new generations of catalysts, reactors, and imagining tools for understanding and controlling the chemical transformation of biomass-derived oxygenates to fuels. He aims to develop economical processes for the production of renewable gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and petrochemicals derived from renewable lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks. The original story and video interview can be found here.
Source: ChemistryViews (Published: 03-27-2012)
UMass Amherst Engineers Make ‘Building Blocks of Chemical Industry’ From Wood While Boosting Production 40 Percent (01-10-2012)
Chemical engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, using a catalytic fast pyrolysis process that transforms renewable non-food biomass into petrochemicals, have developed a new catalyst that boosts the yield for five key "building blocks of the chemical industry" by 40 percent compared to previous methods. This sustainable production process, which holds the promise of being competitive and compatible with the current petroleum refinery infrastructure, has been tested and proven in a laboratory reactor, using wood as the feedstock ...More
The Bio-Academic Entrepreneurs
Intellect, experience and business sense make them the industry dream ...
Understanding Bright Prospects When George Huber first started his career in research and development, he was a chemical engineering student at Brigham Young University. “I went to a researcher and talked to him about his research, and he told me about Fischer-Tropsch synthesis,?Huber says of his early days. “In my mind that was the coolest idea possible. I spent as much time as I could in the lab trying to learn about it.?Huber doesn’t work at JBEI, but he has achieved, on a much smaller scale, what Keasling has. After joining the University of Massachusetts-Amherst staff in November 2006, he helped develop a single-step process to make olefins and aromatics from biomass using a catalytic fast pyrolysis system. That process is the basis for Anellotech, the startup company for which Huber is now a consultant.
Source: Biorefining Magazine, September 2011, (August 22, 2011)
Fuel options: The ideal biofuel
A biomass-based fuel needs to be cheap and energy dense. Gasoline sets a high standard.
A single word can sum up the biofuel of the future as envisioned by the people trying to create it ?petrol.
"Our goal really is to come up with methods to make all the same molecules found in gasoline, jet fuel and diesel," says George Huber, a chemical engineer at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who is working on ways to turn plant organic matter, or biomass, into transport fuels. Like petrol (gasoline), an ideal biofuel should drop into today's infrastructure and carry enough juice to get any vehicle where it's going
Source: Nature, 474, S9–S11 (23 June 2011)
Title: Chopping Up Lignin Organic Chemistry: Catalyst selectively cleaves key bond in models of complex plant polymer
"There's a saying that you can make anything you want to from lignin except for money," says George W. Huber, an expert in biomass conversion at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Researchers have been trying to break down lignin for a long time, but selectivity has always been an issue,
Source: Chemical & Engineering News (ACS Publication, April 25, 2011) Volume 89, Number 17, p.11
Innovator: George Huber The chemical engineer has developed a process for creating high-value chemicals out of little more than sawdust and cornstalks
In 2008 two men showed up at George W. Huber's office and flashed FBI badges. Huber, 36, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, had just received a multi-million-dollar grant from the military for his biofuel research. The federal agents at his doorstep wanted to make sure no one was spying on him. "I initially mistook them for salesmen," he says.
Huber doesn't think spies are following him, but oil companies, energy experts, and investors have started paying close attention to his work. Huber has developed a process for creating benzene, toluene, and xylene (known collectively as BTX). The latter two are high-value chemicals that can be blended with gasoline to fuel autos more cleanly and cheaply. All three are also essential in the manufacture of plastics, fabrics, detergents, and countless other products. While today's BTX supply is derived from petroleum, Huber uses inexpensive, nonfood biomass such as sawdust and cornstalks to create the chemicals.
Source: Innovator column, Businessweek (Published on January 7, 2011)
Technology That Breaks the Car Industry Mold
The technology is intriguing because it creates oil and other petrochemicals like benzene, from cellulose - but without most of the troubling drawbacks that other biofuels have.
"We're making gasoline. The molecules we make are exactly the same as what is made in petroleum today," said George Huber, the UMass chemist who created the process used by Annellotech.
Most plant material can be used, but wood chips or sawdust are best. This material is first dried and ground up, then fed into a device called a fluidized bed reactor, where it is heated and put under vacuum.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Published on January 6, 2011)
8 Big Ideas That Could Pave the Road to Clean Energy George Huber, chemical engineer, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
-Bright Idea: Produce ethanol or other renewable fuels from biomass that we do not use for food.
The amount of biomass available from corn and food crops is very small; for biofuels to have a large impact, we must harness energy from nonedible plants, also known as
cellulosic biomass—wood and wood waste, agricultural waste, and energy crops. You want to convert it as cheaply as possible and make the highest-value products. Here’s how: First you break that
solid biomass down into liquid or gaseous products. Then you add catalysts to convert these broken-down products into a range of compounds. From such biomass, you can make all the same fuels that
we make from petroleum today: gasoline, diesel, jet. In the future, when people go to the gas station, they won’t even know that they’re putting a biofuel into their car. This is a very near-term
solution that we are going to see happening in the next 5 to 15 years
Source: Discover Magazine (December 2009 issue; Published online January 19, 2010)
Trees in Your Tank? The Future of Green Gasoline: Earth Day Extra Hydrogen, ethanol and even compressed air all have the shrink-wrapped sheen of the
bright, green future. But gasoline? At $1 per gallon?
Researchers at UMass Amherst recently published a new method of refining hydrocarbons from cellulose, paving the way to turn wood scraps into gasoline, diesel fuel,
Tupperware--anything, essentially, that's normally refined from petroleum. Many scientists have been working on ways to turn everything from corn stalks to tires into ethanol, sidestepping some of
the problems inherent to making fuel from corn and other food products. But ethanol has a number of liabilities, regardless of the source. For instance, it requires automotive engines to be
modified and contains less energy than gasoline, driving down fuel economy
Source: Popular Mechanics(Published on October 1, 2009)
Green Gold Taking 'Grassoline' from the Laboratory to the Marketplace
Professor George Huber calls it ?green gasoline.? To one of his co-workers it?s ?grassoline.?
When Huber held up a vial of what he says is gasoline made from sawdust and small wood debris, however, it caught sunlight from the windows in his office and looked like liquid gold
Source: Business West (Published on September 14, 2009)
The greening of gasoline UMass researchers aim to turn plant matter into less costly fuel that’s more environmentally friendly
In a laboratory at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, graduate students hover around a complex setup that involves tubes, chambers, and dials. The students load
sawdust into one side of the machine and, within moments, a brown liquid begins to drip into a catch basin on the other side
Source: Boston Globe (Published on July 13, 2009)
Grassoline: Biofuels beyond Corn Scientists are turning agricultural leftovers, wood and fast-growing grasses into a huge variety of biofuels—even jet
fuel. But before these next-generation biofuels go mainstream, they have to compete with oil at $60 a barrel
By now it ought to be clear that the U.S. must get off oil. We can no longer afford the dangers that our dependence on petroleum poses for our national security, our
economic security or our environmental security. Yet civilization is not about to stop moving, and so we must invent a new way to power the world’s transportation fleet. Cellulosic biofuels—liquid
fuels made from inedible parts of plants—offer the most environmentally attractive and technologically feasible near-term alternative to oil.
Source: Scientific American (Published on June 29, 2009)
CBET Award Achievements Notable Accomplishments from CBET Awards
Biofuels from plant sources such as switchgrass and forest waste are becoming vitally important as our society moves away from petroleum- derived resources. The current
roadblock for producing these new biofuels is the lack of economical processes to convert the plant matter into liquids. The ideal process would selectively produce a liquid biofuel from solid
biomass in a single, small reactor
Source: National Science Foundation (Published on May 2009)
Department of Defense Awards Biofuel Research Funding The Department of Defense has awarded $1.9-million in funding to a biofuel research team led by
chemical engineer George Huber at the University of Massachusetts Amherst so he and colleagues can turn wood and corn waste products into fuel precursors.
The DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has granted Huber and colleagues funding to investigate new catalysts to enable low-cost pathways for the
conversion of lignocellulosic biomass (derived from the cells and woody fibers of plants and trees) into a liquid composition that can be easily refined to a fuel such as JP-8. Huber and his team
will exploit new chemistries to develop an end-to-end process that starts with biomass as the input and ends with JP-8 range alkanes and aromatics, which are both hydrocarbons and are the essential
ingredients in military fuel
Source: AZoCleantech (Published on April 15, 2009)
Nitrogen as a Gas Additive? It’s Been Done
George Huber, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who is working to produce gasoline components from biomass, said that added
nitrogen "might help your engine run a little cleaner, but I don’t think it will cause a major difference."
Source: The New York Times (Published on April 7, 2009)
Nitrogen Fertilizer: Agricultural Breakthrough-And Environmental Bane A new report citing drawbacks of the corn ethanol craze casts a pall over the
centennial of a Nobel Prize-winning discovery that transformed global food production
Even as researchers sound the alarm on biofuels, they suggest promising solutions. On the horizon is cellulosic ethanol, sometimes dubbed "grassoline". The wood or woody
grasses that are the feedstocks for these so-called second-generation biofuels can be grown on marginal lands (thereby not competing for space with food crops) and need much less fertilizer,
according to chemical engineer George Huber of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A mature cellulosic biofuel industry will be able to compete with oil at around $50 per barrel and deliver
fuel to the pump at about $2 per gallon, say Huber and his Michigan State University colleague Bruce Dale
Source: Scientific American (Published on March 20, 2009)
UMass recieves DARPA funding to turn biomass into fuel
The Department of Defense has awarded $1.9 million in funding to a biofuel research team led by chemical engineer George Huber at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
so he and colleagues can turn wood and corn waste products into fuel precursors
Source: Biomass Magazine (Published on 2009)
Energy & Genius - Beaker Fuel Designer biofuels looked great at $140 oil. How about $65?
Range Fuels, a company in Broomfield, Colo., plans to open a plant next year that will use heat and catalysts, but no bugs, to turn cellulose into ethanol. Bio-free
approaches might prove to be better, says U Mass chemical engineer George Huber
Source: Forbes Magazine (Published on November 24, 2008)
Biofuels Under Fire
Chemical engineer George Huber of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst says it is important to distinguish between various types of biofuels. "The real challenge is
first-generation biofuels. You are taking agricultural products [like corn] and you are using those directly [to produce biofuels]. With second-generation biofuels, what's called the cellulosic
biofuels, you are using non-edible biomass. You are using agricultural waste or energy crops, which don't compete directly with foods," says Huber. "Corn ethanol, biodiesel - you could make the
argument that maybe you could remove those subsidies. But the subsidies will be necessary to make biofuels economically competitive, particularly the subsidies on cellulosic biofuels."
Source: Voice of America (Published on May 27, 2008)
Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, But Gasoline Might Researchers make breakthrough in creating gasoline from plant matter, with almost no carbon
Researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of "green gasoline," a liquid identical to standard gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources like
switchgrass and poplar trees.
Reporting in the cover article of the April 7, 2008 issue of Chemistry & Sustainability, Energy & Materials (ChemSusChem), chemical engineer and National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER awardee
George Huber of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) and his graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline
Source: National Science Foundation (Press Release 08-056; Published on April 7, 2008)
Researchers Report Advances in Direct Production of Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels from Biomass
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst reported the first production of high-quality aromatic fuel additives for gasoline directly from solid biomass
feedstocks by catalytic fast pyrolysis in a single catalytic reactor at short residence times. The work by Professor George Huber and graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute is the
cover article in the 7 April issue of Chemistry & Sustainability, Energy & Materials (ChemSusChem)
Source: Green Car Congress (Published on April 7, 2008)
NSF Publishes Roadmap for Hydrocarbon Biofuels
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has published a roadmap for the production of hydrocarbon biofuels—liquid transportation fuels derived from lignocellulosic biomass
that are close analogs for their petroleum-derived hydrocarbon counterparts
Source: Green Car Congress (Published on February 28, 2008)
Biofuels from Cellulose-based Waste
The growing demand for biofuels, especially in the wealthy developed countries is putting pressure on food crops such as corn, soy and sorghum. Farmers in both developed
and developing countries are replacing food crops with crops for ethanol, as they get higher prices and often incentives for these biofuel crops
Source: Helioza.com (Published on 2008)
"Green Gasoline" Made from Wood or Grasses Developed by Chemcial Engineer George Huber
George Huber of UMass Amherst has received a $400,000 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to pursue his revolutionary method for making biofuels, or "green
gasoline," from wood or grasses, a process that would be much less expensive than conventional gasoline or ethanol made from corn. "We've proven this method on a small scale in the lab," says
Huber, a professor of chemical engineering. "But we need to make further improvements and prove it on a large scale before it's going to be economically viable."
Source: MassLive.com (Published on April 19, 2008)
Low cost biofuels gaining steam
A new method for making biofuels, or “green gasoline,?from wood or grasses would result in much less expensive fuel than conventional gasoline or ethanol made from
"We've proven this method on a small scale in the lab," said George Huber, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor of chemical engineering. "But we need to make further improvements and
prove it on a large scale before it's going to be economically viable." Huber is an expert on biofuels, sustainable fuels made from plant materials
Source: InTech, ISA (Published on April 17, 2008)
Biofuels Research Roundup
Fermenting corn can make ethanol, and vegetable oil can become biodiesel -- but what other routes to biofuels are there? In this segment, Ira talks with several
researchers looking at innovative ways to harvest energy from plant materials, including gasoline-like chemicals, ethanol, and hydrogen production.
George Huber, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, reports that using the right combination of catalysts it is possible to heat biological materials and produce many of the same
hydrocarbons found in gasoline. Those molecules could then either be blended into ethanol, or burned directly in a high-octane fuel
Source: ScienceFriday (Published on April 11, 2008)
The Fuel of the Future Is Grassoline Cellulosic biofuel could reduce our reliance on foreign petroleum without the problems associated with ethanol from
corn--if we can figure out how to extract its energy economically
George W. Huber and Bruce Dale are chemical engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Michigan State University, respectively.
In this article, a rough draft of which appears below, Huber and Dale point out that biofuels remain one of the most technically promising alternatives to oil. The key will be learning to convert
cellulosic biomass (like stalks and stems, and unlike edible cereal corn, which is noncellulosic) into fuel. Please help us edit the following piece by suggesting factors the researchers may have
overlooked or refinements to their argument
Source: Scientific American (Published on April 9, 2009)
Breakthrough In Biofuel Production Process Researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of "green gasoline," a liquid identical to standard
gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources like switchgrass and poplar trees.
Reporting in the April 7, 2008 issue of Chemistry & Sustainability, Energy & Materials (ChemSusChem), chemical engineer and National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER
awardee George Huber of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) and his graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into
Source: ScienceDaily (Published on April 8, 2008)
Cellulose Success Firms seek greener ethanol from wood chips and agricultural waste
A successor tier of start-up ventures aims to avoid those problems. Rather than focusing on the starches, sugars and fats of food crops, many of the prototype bioethanol
processes work with lignocellulose, the “woody?tissue that strengthens the cell walls of plants, says University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineer George W. Huber. Although the cellulose
breaks down less easily than sugars and starches and thus requires a complex series of enzyme-driven chemical reactions, its use opens the industry to nonfood plant feedstocks such as agricultural
wastes, wood chips and switchgrass. But no company has yet demonstrated a cost-competitive industrial process for making cellulosic biofuels
Source: Scientific American (Published on March 17, 2008)
NSF releases report on next-generation hydrocarbon biofuels; finds large potential
The National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States has published an extensive roadmap for the production of next generation hydrocarbon biofuels derived from
lignocellulosic biomass that are close analogs for their petroleum-derived hydrocarbon counterparts. Whereas the U.S. has made a significant investment in technologies focusing on breaking the
biological barriers to biofuels, principally cellulosic ethanol, this is only one of many biofuel production pathways. There has not been a commensurate investment in the research needed to break
the chemical barriers to make bio-based hydrocarbon fuels. According to the roadmap, chemical pathways hold many advantages over bioconversion of biomass into cellulosic alcohols and can generate a
much wider range of fuels that can replace gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel
Source: Biopact (Published on February 29, 2008)
A New Biofuel: Propane Propane chemically derived from corn could be used in heating and transportation.
"All biofuel reactions involve removing oxygen from the starting compound," says George Huber, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of
Massachusetts, in Amherst. There are a number of strategies for doing this, including reactions that rely on biological catalysts. But, says Huber, "supercritical fluids are a very promising way to
make biofuels. You can do it in a very small reactor in a very short time, so you can do it very economically."
Source: Technology Review (Published by MIT) (Published on April 19, 2007)
Huber Wins Dreyfus Award for Research to Make Sustainable Liquid Transportation Fuels from Biomass
Nationally recognized “green gasoline?researcher and advocate George Huber, from the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been selected for an esteemed Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, which includes an unrestricted research grant of $75,000. Dr. Huber becomes the third member of the Chemical Engineering Department’s current faculty to win this highly selective national award in the chemical sciences. The other two were Dr. Dimitri Maroudas in 1999 and Dr. Jeffrey Davis in 2007. Huber is the country’s leading expert in the area of catalytic pyrolysis of biomass, which is a simple process to produce green gasoline and petrochemicals from domestically available renewable biomass
Source: UMass-Amherst Engineering News (Published on May 2011)
"Green Gas" Research Leads to Prestigious Position
Dr. Ning Li, who just finished his post-doctoral research in the lab of George Huber of the Chemical Engineering Department, has accepted a job as a research professor in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China, where he also earned his Ph.D. in 2004. The hire was based partially on Dr. Li's research at UMass Amherst, where he developed a new process called hydrodeoxygenation to make green gasoline from sugars. "Dalian is a very prestigeous institution," says Dr. Huber, the Armstrong Professional Development Professor, "and shows the quality jobs that our students are getting."
Source: UMass-Amherst Engineering News (Published on August 2010)