Columbus Scientists Develop New Way To Create Gasoline


UPDATED: Friday July 27, 2012 6:36 PM

Many feel pain in their wallets each time they gas up their vehicles.

Part of the pain comes from the cost of importing oil.

Scientists at Battelle Memorial Institute want to change America’s reliance on foreign oil within the next 10 years.

Battelle mechanical engineer Zia Abdullah said that instead of creating gasoline from petroleum in big refineries, researchers are thinking small.

“So, our vision is, the small is beautiful vision,” Abdullah said.

The researchers' factory consists of two modest size machines, designed to fit on a tractor trailer. 

Raw, natural materials, such as big trees that fell during recent storms, grass, weeds and paper, are ground and dried in an oven. Once the biomass is dried, it is put inside the first machine, along with a catalyst, to create oil. The oil goes into a second machine with another catalyst, and in a few hours, gasoline emerges.

"A system that would take 100 tons of biomass a day and produce about 6,000 gallons of gasoline a day," Abdullah said.

The amount is roughly enough to fill a tanker truck.

 Abdullah said that the fuel could be mixed with refined gas in a big storage facility for use in vehicles.

"These small systems then could be owned by farmers, cooperatives, they can be owned by cities," Abdullah said.

Last year, the City of Columbus spent more than $11 million on fuel for its vehicles. It also spent $14.5 million to dump trash in its landfills.

Abdullah said that he thinks the Battelle system could also run on trash, saving the city money on both fuel and trash dumping fees.

Scientists said that they envisioned dozens – possibly hundreds – of the systems around the country, cutting out refineries and cutting down on transportation costs and foreign oil dependency.

"This is a great opportunity for our country to make a difference this is to get off imported oil," Abdullah said.

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