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Biofuel production

Today, most of the R&I work taking place around the world in the field of biofuel production focuses on the development of so-called 2nd generation (2G) technologies, using lignocellulosic resources such as agricultural and forestry waste.

IFPEN is studying two main processes for the conversion of biomass into fuel:

  • biochemical conversion (bioethanol production),
      
  • and thermochemical conversion (biodiesel and biokerosene production), also known as BtL (Biomass to Liquid) technology.

Its research covers the entire process chain, from pre‑treatment of lignocellulose to fuel production, via the optimization and integration of the different steps, in economic and environmental terms.

 

One step closer to the industrialization of the Futurol process

In the field of biochemical conversion, IFPEN is contributing to the Futurol collaborative project, aimed at developing and launching to market a complete chain for the production of 2G bioethanol which is economically competitive.

In 2016, a final step was taken with the completion of the construction and commissioning of the industrial biomass pre-treatment prototype, installed at the Tereos sugar plant in Bucy le Long, in the Aisne area of northern France. Unit reception tests will continue in 2017, prior to a phase dedicated to the acquisition of the parameters required to validate the industrial scale-up of the technology. Axens will market the process from 2017.

          The Futurol project for the development of a bioethanol production process.

 

A first generation of biofuels available at the pump

First-generation biodiesel and ethanol, produced respectively from oil-and sugar-containing plants or cereals, are now available at the pump.
  
IFPEN contributed to the development of these 1st generation technologies, with, for example, the Vegan® process for the production of biodiesel from vegetable oil, marketed by Axens.
  
In 2015, Total chose this innovative technology for the conversion of its La Mède (Marseille) site into a global-sized biorefinery (500,000 t/year). It is due to be brought into service in 2018.
  
Meanwhile, IFPEN continues to optimize the Vegan® process, by working to improve the hydroisomerization catalyst.

  

 

The BioTfueL project reaches a crucial milestone

In the field of thermochemical conversion, IFPEN is one of the leading players in the BioTfueL project, the objective of which is to develop and launch to market a production chain for 2G biodiesel and biokerosene by 2020.

Two demonstration units were built in 2016:

  • one for the pre-treatment of biomass by torrefaction at the Avril group’s site in the northern French town of Venette (Oise area),
      
  • and the other for the gasification of the torrefied biomass at Total’s Flanders site, near Dunkirk.
    Inaugurated in December 2016, the latter will be used to test the gasification technology, as well as the performance of the purification chain for the synthesis gas obtained
    >> Press release

In 2017, these two demonstrators will be used to validate the sequence of technologies retained and guarantee industrial-scale scale-up, as well as the overall efficiency of the process chain.

                            BioTfueL demonstrator in Dunkerque (February 2016)

Read more
 + Industrial development > Biofuels and green chemistry
 + Biofuels turn to fungus, by Antoine Margeot and Frédéric Monot

Links
 > Web site Axens
 > Web site Futurol


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Key figures

15%
the target set for 2030 for renewable fuel consumption by the French law relative to the energy transition for green growth

10-fold
Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with second-generation biofuels.

Inauguration of the BioTfueL project demonstrator

The BioTfueL project provides a blueprint for the biorefinery of the future, supporting the objectives of the energy transition in the transport sector and the economic development and jobs of the advanced biofuel sector.”
Ségolène Royal, French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea - Dunkerque, le 09/12/2016