Second-generation Biofuels

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Second-generation biofuels share the feature of being produced from lignocellulosic biomass, enabling the use of lower-cost, non-edible feedstocks, thereby limiting direct food vs. Fuel competition. Second-generation biofuels can be further classified in terms of the process used to convert the biomass to fuel: biochemical or thermochemical. Second-generation ethanol or butanol would be made via biochemical processing, while all other second-generation fuels discussed here would be made via thermochemical processing. Second-generation thermochemical biofuels may be less familiar to most readers than second-generation ethanol, because there are no first-generation analogs. On the other hand, many second-generation thermochemical fuels are fuels that are already being made commercially from fossil fuels using processing steps that in some cases are identical to those that would be used for biofuel production (Figure 6). These fuels include methanol, refined Fischer-Tropsch liquids (FTL), and dimethyl ether (DME). Mixed alcohols can also be made from fossil fuels, but there is no commercial production today due to the immature state of some components of systems for producing these. The other thermochemical biofuel in Figure 6 is green diesel, for which there is no obvious fossil fuel analog. Unrefined fuels, such as pyrolysis oils, are also produced thermochemically, but these require considerable refining before they can be used in engines.

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