The biofuels industry is the largest segment of the renewable energy market. The main use is for transportation: By 2020, it is targeted to generate 10 percent of the world’s transport fuel demand.
Biofuels are generated from recently harvested plant material. They are designed to replace petrol, diesel, and coal—collectively termed “fossil fuels”—which are non-renewable resources, owing to the millions of years they take to form. Fossil fuels are not only becoming scarcer and thus costlier, but their use is contentious as they do not burn cleanly and produce harmful by-products:
Biofuel production must increase to meet fuel demands, but feedstock and methods of production are changing. Traditional production is found to increase CO2 emissions relative to fossil fuels, owing to the fertilizers used and the harvesting operation. Additionally, the crops used to generate biofuels replace those that feed the growing population, which leads to food shortages and price increases.
On the other hand, advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol and algal biofuel are derived from more sustainable non-food feedstocks. They use processes that better reduce GHG levels and supplement the earlier biofuels derived from beets, corn, and other grains.
As the focus is on net GHG emissions, any part of the production process using dryers (and thus, consuming fuel) must be closely monitored to minimize GHG emissions.
NIR measurement is a bulk solids measurement, so it can be used the biofuel industry to control and monitor a diverse range of calorie-rich by-products from biofuel production. This is needed to ensure product consistency, quality and shelf life, as well as production efficiency. Throughout the evolution of the biofuel industry, Process Sensors has supplied accurate and reliable analyzers to optimize the return on its by-products.
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A by-product of biofuel production, DDGS is an attractive, lower-cost alternative to traditional livestock and poultry feed ingredients if produced with appropriate moisture monitoring.