If you talk to winemakers, they will tell you that it is good practice to blend different types of grapes to get that balance in terms of flavors. Maybe a few years from now, this will also be true for biofuels that we will be using for our cars.
A study conducted by Joint BioEnergy Institute in collaboration with the Department Energy of the United States established that ionic liquids can be used to pre-treat individual or blend of feedstocks of biofuels.
The experiment yielded promising results, showing the ionic liquids can effectively handle milled feedstocks that have been turned into pellets. After treatment, the biofuel feedstocks can still yield a good amount of fermentable sugars. This only shows that blending and even densifying a variety of feedstocks has a good potential to make a biofuel technology for the transportation sector cost-competitive.
The proponents used a good variety of plants that can serve as fuel crops. The materials were mixed and then milled to pellets or floor then pretreated with an ionic liquid. The experiment aimed at determining the effect of mixing the feedstocks and densification of the blend on the biomass that yields fermentable sugars for production of biofuels.
The team is investigating methodsto up the energy densities of the biomass feedstocks in order to make delivery to transportation biofuel refineries more economical. The results of the experiment proves that biofuel feedstocks can be densified into pellets or flours without significant effects on their sugar yield.
The proponents used blends of lodgepole pine, eucalyptus, corn stover, and switchgrass to make pellets and flour then processed it within a day. The material still yielded about 90% in either forms upon saccharification.
The next step of the study will be to determine the most cost efficient blend of feedstock in pellet form in the United States and then determine the most efficient process to convert them to biofuels.