Development of renewable transportation fuels is crucial for solving two of Europe's most urgent challenges: energy security and mitigation of climate change. The proposed research falls in the strategic area of Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) which is emerging as an innovative technique for the production of liquid transportation fuels. During the conversion process, high temperature and pressure is applied to biomass feedstocks in aqueous slurries, resulting in a fuel similar to petroleum crude. The process mimics the process of fossil fuel creation which has taken place over millions of years, where heat and high pressure was applied to biomass under the earth surface, resulting in our current petroleum, coal and natural gas reserves. My work can replicate this process in a matter of minutes. The advantages of the technology are its high versatility in terms of feedstocks and products. The produced bio-crude is upgraded to fuels suitable for existing infrastructure.
I will be working closely with scientists from the Department of Chemistry and Engineering and with one of the world’s largest HTL pilot plants at the Aarhus Foulum Campus. The aims of my research include reducing the overall costs of the process by reducing waste and optimising the recovery of the chemical energy available in the biomass. I will also be working on optimising the fuel quality so it can be used directly in existing infrastructure. A techno-economic and environmental assessment will be carried out to assess the sustainability of the overall biofuel concept.
Patrick Biller is a chemical engineer interested in renewable transportation fuels and renewable energy technology in general. He obtained his PhD from the University of Leeds researching microalgae as a source of third generation biofuels. He moved to Aarhus in 2015 to pursue research in the hydrothermal liquefaction technology at the Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University. Now he works at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies where he is investigating diverse aspects of the technology working towards its commercialisation.