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How can salt help tackle climate change?

An EU-funded project has developed a novel process for turning waste biomass into biofuels.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility
Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies
Energy icon Energy

Waste plant material from agriculture and forestry is one of the most abundant raw materials on the planet. Converting this raw material into energy in the form of biofuels could help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The EU-funded ABC-SALT project demonstrated a sustainable method to achieve this using molten salts as a medium. The project has now been featured in the new CORDIS series of explanatory videos titled Make the Connection. The ability to use lignocellulose as a raw material for advanced biofuel applications has been constrained by the difficulty of extracting sugars from tough woody biomass, which is designed by nature to resist breakdown. The ABC-SALT project has found a more efficient method to deconstruct lignocellulosic biomass by treating the waste with hot molten salts. Project coordinator Erik Heeres notes: “Molten salts hold great potential for use as liquefiers since they maximise the liquid fraction in fast hydropyrolysis, and act as catalysts.” In the process implemented by ABC-SALT, samples of oils derived from lignin hydropyrolysis were successfully hydrotreated. Up to 90 % of the carbon was recovered for conversion into fuel products, the majority of the which fell into the middle distillate range – key fuels for both road and aviation use. ‘Make the connection with EU-science’ is a series of explanatory videos focusing on the scientific content and exploitation aspects of EU research projects.

Keywords

ABC-SALT, biomass, biofuel, molten salts, lignocellulose, middle distillates, hydropyrolysis