Desert Fuels: Systems Approach to Biofuel Production and Energy Storage
To create integrated systems to produce fuel from biomass growing in arid/semi-arid regions of the United States. The research effort is aimed at generating transportation fuels and electricity to be consumed near the site of production. The uniqueness of these desert fuel production/consumption systems include:
- Using several types of biomass, all of which have advantages including native stands of plants that require little water for growth and can be harvested without harm to the ecosystem; solutions to other problems such as collecting vegetation along highway medians which saves tax dollars, and readily cultivable, non-food, plants that grow well under low-water, high solar energy conditions existing in this area
- Expertise to develop the processes and/or use of off-the-shelf technology to go from biomass to fuel is all at Texas Tech University
- Fuels generated can serve as electron acceptors to enhance their stored energy and value by technologies currently under development that use excess solar and wind power
Several federal agencies manage large areas of land in the arid and semiarid regions of the southwestern United States. Today, many of these agencies are being asked to reduce energy consumption and use renewable resources to replace a portion of their liquid fuel consumption. Much of this land area would be well suited for one of the five renewable energy production system technologies being developed at Texas Tech.
The specific objective of this proposal is to generate the feedstocks, production strategies, fuel processing and developmental analyses necessary to allow 20 million acres of federal lands in the western United States to produce renewable liquid fuels. Renewable energy production would reduce dependence on fossil fuels, provide rural communities across the western United States an additional industrial enterprise, and reduce the carbon footprint of the entire region.
- Competitive Energy Systems. Using a systems approach, introduce five technologies as commercially competitive energy systems that are well adapted to the Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Wyoming
- Production of Renewable Fuels. Generate the feedstocks, production strategies, fuel processing, and developmental analyses necessary to allow more than 20 million acres of federal lands in the western United States to produce 1.6 billion gallons of renewable fuels annually
- Energy Self Sufficiency. Discovered technologies would meet the target of 20 percent energy self sufficiency, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels
- Rural Development. Sustainable production of ‘desert fuels’ in rural communities will provide alternative economic activities for rural development
- Reducing Carbon Footprint. Sustainable production of ‘desert fuels’ will reduce the carbon footprint of the entire region with minimal impacts on existing food or animal feed crop output
Lead Agency: Texas Tech University
Partner: U.S. Department of Energy