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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N021746/1
Title: Study of Novel Biofuels from Biomass - Methyl-Furans (MF)
Principal Investigator: Xu, Professor H
Other Investigators:
Wyszynski, Professor ML Hodges, Dr N Harrison, Professor R
Ding, Professor Y Hornung CEng FIChemE FRSC, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Green Fuels Research Jaguar Land Rover Limited Shell
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 May 2016 Ends: 31 October 2019 Value (£): 931,604
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Assess/Remediate Contamination Bioenergy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Energy
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Nov 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 25th and 26th November 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Since a fundamental approach to identify and determine the reaction mechanisms in making furanics using fructose as the starting material has been reported by both Nature and Science as the breakthroughs in future biofuel production technology, in the real world, the fructose will come from biomass such as crop residues, forest waste, municipal waste and energy crops. The capability to work on sustainable feedstock and address those which have little or no cellulose within their structure is critically important in order to utilise a wide range of biomass sources for biofuel production.

This project will expand the previous work on 2,5-Dimethylfuran (DMF), to cover the research on production technology converting biomass to furan series as well as characterisation of a more attractive furanic family member 2-Methylfuran (MF). Biomass derived fuels like MF is not the only product formed from the biomass conversion. Bio MF is produced as a mixture with other compounds, referred to henceforth as MF-c (MF compounds), resulting from the degradation of the original biomass. The present project aims to investigate systematically a whole technological pathway for the use and production of furanics (MF and MF compounds) as novel engine fuels via biomass conversion. The research will involve bioenergy and engine combustion technological areas and it will target the following specific objectives:

1) To investigate the behaviours and combustion characteristics of MF and real-world MF-c based bio-oil in engines using experimental and numerical approaches

2) To improve understanding of mechanisms for production of bio-oils with MF and MF-c starting with lignocellulosic biomass

3) To develop practical technology and process for efficient production of biofuels containing MF and MF-c

4) To investigate the impact of MF (MF-c) (including non-conventional emissions) involving health issues of users and CO2 footprint in the production and application of MF based biofuels

The research programme will consist of 3 main Work Packages (WP): WP1 concerns the assessment of MF/MF-c performance in engines as fuels. Fundamental theoretical studies will be carried out to investigate the fuel properties of MF and MF-c bio-oils and expanded knowledge will be obtained about the fuel in terms of ignition and combustion chemistry compared with main components of gasoline and diesel. Advanced optical diagnostics will be applied to study the spray and combustion processes of MF and MF blends. WP2 concerns advancement of MF production methodology. A variety of lignocellulosic biomass residues will be characterised for their elemental, physical and chemical properties and by using TG-MS techniques the optimal biomass type and biomass degradation conditions which produces optimal yields of furfural and furfural alcohol as intermediate pyrolysis products will be determined. WP3 is for assessment of the toxicity of MF and impact on the environment. It will involve experimental study to determine whether MF is genotoxic at low concentrations. The results, in combination with information about predicted levels of human exposure to MF would then be used to form the basis of a more rational risk-assessment of the toxicity of MF in humans and the safety of MF as an alternative fuel source.

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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk