How to Convert Woodchips into Biofuel

Wood Products | 30 October 2017

Converting woodchips into biofuel can be a great way to create renewable energy. At Valley Carriers, we want to help ensure a cleaner and happier planet through the creation of renewable energy. That is why we carry woodchips for commercial applications that are perfect for biofilter uses.

Converting Woodchips into Biofuel

The easiest way to turn woodchips into energy is to burn it, which is a simple process that can provide a lot of energy. Wood scraps can be chipped up or compressed into pellets that can then be shipped to utility companies where it is burned much like coal. In fact, the wood pellets are often burned alongside coal. Pound for pound, these wood pellets only pack about 60-70% as much energy as coal, which is still enough energy to spin a turbine and generate electricity.

The Conversion Process

While there are a variety of ways in which cellulosic biomass from woodchips can be converted into biofuels, one of the most common ways to convert woodchips into biofuel is to use heat, bacteria, and chemical reactions. This common process follows a few simple steps:

  1. Pre-treatment – woodchips are treated with high pressures and steam to breakdown the tough fibres in the wood and expose the sugars (cellulose and hemicellulose).
  2. Hydrolysis – enzymes break the long chains of sugar into individual sugar molecules, such as glucose and xylose.
  3. Fermentation – the sugars are fermented by naturally occurring bacteria to produce acetic acid.
  4. Esterification – the resulting acetic acid is combined with an intermediate product and converted to ethyl acetate.
  5. Hydrogenation – ethyl acetate is then reacted with hydrogen with the presence of a catalyst to make ethanol.
  6. Ethanol dehydration – ethanol is dehydrated at high temperatures using an acid catalyst to produce ethylene and water. The water is then reused in other parts of the conversion system.
  7. Polymerization – the ethylene molecules are combined to create larger hydrocarbon chains, which are then added to hydrogen to form bio-based fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

If you would like to learn more about how to convert woodchips into biofuel, or if you are interested in one of our other products or services (wood recycling, trucking services, and log hauling services), please contact Valley Carriers at 604-853-1075.