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Enerkem announces high-octane breakthrough

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Enerkem has produced a new high-performance biofuel that it claims could improve the octane rating of fuels sold on the market as well as reduce their carbon footprint. The innovation has been achieved in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US.

The Canadian waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer announced its latest innovation at the 255th American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans.

Developed at Enerkem’s Innovation Centre in Westbury, Quebec, the new biofuel has a Research Octane Number of up to 112, 20 points higher than the average octane rating found in ‘regular’ motor gasoline, according to the company.

“It's a major breakthrough that could enable the development of a new non-oxygenated biofuel made from waste on a commercial scale," explained Stéphane Marie-Rose, director of Enerkem's Innovation Centre.

"Through the very selective catalytic reaction achieved using our waste-to-biofuels process, we have formed paraffinic molecules, such as triptane, whose properties already contain a high-octane rating, thereby increasing the volume of paraffins when used as an additive in a conventional fuel."

By combining bio-dimethyl ether (Bio-DME) derived from Enerkem’s biomethanol and a DME-to-high-octane gasoline catalyst developed by the NREL, the team claim to be the first to demonstrate at pilot scale the production of an alternative fuel rich in paraffins.

According to Enerkem, the new high-octane biofuel could serve the specialised fuels market, such as the aviation gasoline and motorsport sectors.