Researchers: Develop Biofuels and Advanced Engines

John Davis

The next generation of biofuels must be developed in conjunction with advanced combustion engines, if there is to be long-term success of those biofuels. That word comes from researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories.

The recommendations were made following a Sandia-hosted workshop held in November, Next Generation Biofuels and Advanced Engines for Tomorrow’s Transportation Needs. Participants included researchers at the Department of Energy’s Combustion Research Facility (CRF) and Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), as well as representatives from oil companies, biofuel developers, engine manufacturers, suppliers and experts from the university, regulatory, finance and national laboratory communities.

The full report is now available online at

The workshop, said Ron Stoltz, manager of Sandia’s Advanced Energy Initiatives, was designed to identify opportunities for co-development of biofuels and engines, an often-overlooked issue.

“The oil companies and the automobile and truck engine companies have engaged in a dialogue and collaboration on fuel and engine issues for almost 100 years,” Stoltz said. “But the same cannot be said for the majority of biofuel start-up companies, especially those that are thinking ‘beyond ethanol’. The report highlights how fragmented the biofuels industry is today and how, by putting serious thought behind some key issues like fuel chemistry linked to engine performance, great strides can be made.”

The workshop was designed to help get a dialog going between researchers and experts from industry, academia and government, with the goal to figure out how to accelerate the transition to biofuels. Those participating did agree that the next generation of biofuels needed to be clean (at or below EPA-designated pollutants criteria); sustainable (with a smaller carbon footprint than the petroleum-based fuels being displaced); and compatible with current and future engine designs, and with current and future distribution infrastructure.

The group also recommended modernizing the testing, specification, and certification of all fuels; plan and integrate the research and development of next-generation biofuels in conjunction with the development of advanced engines; develop specific guidelines, roadmaps, and objectives for co-development of next-generation biofuels and advanced engines; and convene an International Fuels and Engines Summit, sponsored by industry with government and university participation.

biofuels, Research