Research Projects

Project at a Glance

Project Status: active

Title: The Future of Drop-In Fuels: Life-Cycle Cost and Environmental Impacts of Bio-Based Hydrocarbon Fuel Pathways

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Horvath, Arpad

Contractor: UC Berkeley

Contract Number: 13-308

Research Program Area: Climate Change

Topic Areas: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Mobile Sources & Fuels

Research Summary:

Drop-in fuels are cleaner alternatives to fossil-derived gasoline and diesel fuels that would require the least modification to the existing infrastructure and vehicle fleet. Similar to other biofuels, drop-in fuels have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are superior to petroleum-based fuels in terms of their impacts on air quality when combusted. In order to be commercially viable, the fuels need to be available in sufficient quantities and at competitive prices. Drop-in fuels are currently in a research and development phase, with pilot- and demonstration-scale plants under construction, but further research on the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of producing these fuels is needed.

For this project, researchers will analyze the technology, feasibility, costs, and environmental impacts of drop-in fuels at both demonstration and commercial scales. The researchers will consider a variety of different production pathways, including conversion of alcohols or sugars to hydrocarbons, algal oils, upgrading syngas, and conversion of biomass to bio-oil. They will perform a geospatial analysis to estimate where fuel production facilities could be located in order to maximize production and minimize environmental impacts. And they will develop strategies to monitor and track supplies, costs, and progress of these technologies. The results of this project will help assess the potential for production and use of drop-in fuels for achieving Californiaís climate goals.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

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