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I have always wondered why there is no drop-in biogasoline like there is drop-in biodiesel. For example, NEXBTL by Neste can be run at 100% mixture in conventional diesel engines. It is different from conventional fatty acid methyl ester type of biodiesel that may require engine modifications. Because NEXBTL is chemically similar to conventional petrodiesel, no modifications are needed.

In contrast to this, the bio-equivalent of gasoline is generally ethanol. Ethanol fuel has poor cold start properties and may require engine component replacements. For example, ethanol may damage fuel lines and seals.

It seems strange to me that if drop-in biodiesel has been produced, why drop-in biogasoline has not been produced. Instead, they produce ethanol the use of which at high concentrations requires vehicle modifications. It feels especially strange to me that the R&D effort was spent in developing drop-in biodiesel, because diesel engines have higher NOx pollution and particulate matter pollution than gasoline engines.

Is there a reason that makes producing drop-in biogasoline much harder than drop-in biodiesel?

I'm especially worried about the situation, because I have a gasoline car that allows running only 10% ethanol and they are already selling 10% ethanol in gasoline here. The future targets have a much larger bio-component in transportation fuels. I'm not sure if it makes sense to buy a more environmentally friendly car at great cost either, because e.g. the Prius also allows only 10% ethanol, meaning the newly purchased car could become obsolete very soon.

  • I don't know the real reason behind this, but realistically, biodiesel was easy. Biogasoline would be hard in comparison. Besides, the "government" (at least the US Government) pushed for replacements for gasoline. Diesel is considered a replacement for gasoline, just like CNG and propane. Biodiesel, as I stated, is an easy win ... at least in the grand scheme of things. Ethanol, while renewable, has a lot of downsides. Nothing like biodiesel. You note a lot of vehicle manufacturers now require DEF tanks to counteract the NOx produced by diesel engines. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Dec 26 '15 at 18:48
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Background

I wouldn't be worried about petroleum companies will suddenly depreciate their products from the marketplace and supplant the current product lines with a fuel that won't be consumable by your Prius. The global impact and loss of profits would be devastating to the global economy as well as the petroleum product provider.

I think more of a concern is that there won't be a next generation product that will drop-in to the global distribution and end user infrastructure.

The primary issue for the void seems to be the ability of bio-fuel manufacturers to create a product that has the same combustion, oxidation, viscosity and lubrication properties of traditional petrochemical based products that are compatible with the current infrastructure and user base.

There are companies that are making great inroads in the area and products are being tested. This article enumerates the progress and illiterates the economic issues nicely.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the primary hurdle is creating a drop-in bio-fuel for the gasoline infrastructure that can be produced for less than the cost of current petroleum based products. The quantities of biomass, land to grow it, infrastructure to convert it and cost of shipping currently need to be brought down to be competitive. As well, the product needs to meet the ASTM standard ASTM D4814 for fuel in the US and EN 228 in Europe.

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