Producing biofuels from woody biomass can be expensive. So NREL researchers combined fundamental science with an economic analysis to find a solution. Their process first identifies the most expensive parts of that conversion. Then, it finds ways to drive down those costs using methanol as an intermediate.
“With the previously reported technology, the conversion cost from methanol to the desired fuel product is about $1 a gallon,” said Daniel Ruddy of NREL’s National Bioenergy Center. “Our best-case scenario is 38 cents a gallon. Where we’ve gotten so far is about 60 to 70 cents a gallon.”