Gallery: Sundrop Fuels Uses Concentrated Solar Heat to Vaporize Biomass

 

The technology sounds ultra-futuristic: concentrated solar heat that can vaporize biomass (wood, crop waste, etc.) into synthetic fuels. But the process, developed by Sundrop Fuels, is real, and it can produce twice the amount of gasoline or diesel than conventional biomass gasification systems.

Sundrop’s process works using a network of solar mirrors that point sunlight to a gasifying unit. The unit heats up ceramic tubes to 1,200 to 1,300 degrees C–hot enough to vaporize any biomass and turn it into synthetic gas. Since the unit operates at such a high temperature, it doesn’t leave behind nasty tar like conventional systems. And while other gasification units require biomass for heating, the Sundrop system relies solely on solar power–so all of Sundrop’s biomass can go directly towards manufacturing syngas.

There are still hurdles to overcome, however. Sundrop readily admits that the richest biomass sources aren’t always located near the best solar resources. Nevertheless, Sundrop is beginning construction on its first commercial facility this year, and a full-scale biorefinery is expected to be ready by 2015.

+ Sundrop Fuels

Via MIT Technology Review

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2 Comments

  1. Techrex March 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Dear Sirs, Could you create a smaller concentrated solar heat to vaporize biomass system that people in dog parks can use to dispose of dog poop? There’s a need for it! It’s a renewable source of biomass, and even if you cannot make synfuel from it, if the system reduces it to ashes, the ashes could be used as a fertilzer potash that people could spread on their lawns.

  2. wesleybruce March 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Australia’s CSIRO did this in the 1980′s. It works well but the Aussy government lost interest and killed all funding for subsequent development. Maybe Sundrops bought the Aussy rights or their patent attorney missed the CSIRO patents. Its very useful if you can get around the bureaucrats talent for killing solutions.

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