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WATER

Tool Helps Biofuel Developers Analyze Water Use

WATERA new version of an online tool created by the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will help biofuel developers analyze water consumption of various types of feedstocks, aiding development of sustainable fuels that will reduce impact on limited water resources.

The newest version of the Water Assessment for Transportation Energy Resources (WATER) for the first time allows biofuels manufacturers to analyze water consumption associated with use of cellulosic feedstocks such as residue left from lumber production and other wood-based resources. The new tool also provides analysis down to the county level in the US for the first time.

WATER was launched in 2013 to provide an in-depth analysis of water consumption used in the development of biofuel production, from cultivation to the conversion of the feedstock into fuel. By analyzing the amount of water used in the process, the tool allows industry to make informed decisions about what types of feedstock are most appropriate for use in water-limited areas.

Version 3.0 analyzes the impacts of producing hydrocarbon fuel from wood resources on water supplies in the US. An open-access online model, WATER creates a measurement of how much water is required to generate a gallon of fuel using multiple variables, including pathway comparison, scenario development and region-specific feedstock and biorefinery analysis.

The tool analyzes multiple biofuel pathways, including corn grain ethanol, soybean biodiesel and agricultural residue-based ethanol produced from corn stover and wheat straw, as well as perennial grass-based ethanol produced from switchgrass and Miscanthus and hydrocarbon fuel produced from hard wood, soft wood and short-rotating woody crops. It includes the conversion process — specific parameters address fermentation, pyrolysis, gasification and transesterification, among other processes.

Last month Novozymes launched what it says is the first commercially available enzymatic solution to make biodiesel from waste oils.

The Novozymes Eversa enzymatic process converts used cooking oil or other lower grade oils into biodiesel. This allows biodiesel producers to reduce their raw material costs. The resulting biodiesel is sold to the same trade specification as biodiesel created through traditional chemical processing.

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