How to make fuel from sawdust

How to make fuel from sawdust


Victoria Zimina


Faculty of Science

It is possible to make fuel from peat and sawdust! Even environment-friendly. To make fuel yourself you’ll need an insulated vessel, a thermometer, a filter…

But RUDN University’s student of the Faculty of Physical-Mathematical and Natural Sciences decided to study scientific methods of clean fuel generation which are applied in industry and improve this technology herself.

The principal source of the generation of diesel fuel, petrol and hydrocarbons, such as propane and butane, is oil. Hydrocarbons are obtained by oil cracking – it is heated and then the vaporized hydrocarbons are condensed. Petrol and diesel fuel are obtained by mixing hydrocarbons containing different amount of carbon and hydrogen. Nevertheless, easily accessible oil reserves are getting exhausted and oil prices are high. For these reasons fuel producers often use poor-quality materials which contain sulfur in large quantities. It makes the product toxic and when it vaporizes it harms the environment. These oil resources are not suitable for clean diesel oil and hydrocarbons generation. That’s why the application of other resources containing carbon and hydrogen has become important. Such resources as natural gas, coal and biomass can replace oil.

From these resources synthetic fuel is manufactured with the help of the Fischer Tropsch conversion. For example, during this reaction overheated water vapour is passed through a layer of red-hot coal. The reaction requires a catalyst, as a result carbon and hydrogen convert into various liquid hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons obtained in this process are low-sulfur and eco-friendly in contrast to oil fuel.

The technology of synthetic fuel generation first appeared in the 1920s in Germany in the period between two world wars. Further it developed in South Africa where the government wanted to support the economy without oil. And in 1970s this method was used in Western Europe and the USA as a response to the Saudi Arabia oil embargo.

The aim of the research of Victoria Zimina, a student of RUDN University’s Faculty of Physical-Mathematical and Natural Sciences, was the selection of catalyst for the reaction which wouldn’t deteriorate fast and facilitate the generation of large quantity of fuel. Catalyst is an additional chemical substance which increases the rate of a chemical reaction but is not consumed in the reaction. Without a catalyst a process may not go at all.

Making experiments with different alloys in the laboratory, Victoria explored that the most suitable catalyst for this process is gadolinium ferrite – an alloy of ferrum in the form of powder. But the student is still in search.

“This topic was suggested by my scientific advisor, it appealed to me very much – the process has a long history, many scientists conduct research on this topic. I wanted to try to make eco-friendly fuel myself and even improve the process of its generation. The Department of Physical and Colloid Chemistry of RUDN University provided all necessary equipment for the performance of the experiment”.

In the future Victoria with her scientific advisor are planning to implement the processes in industry. Victoria performed the results of their research on several scientific conferences.

In RUDN University each student can carry out a project in any sphere – chemistry, physics or genetics. There is everything for that – laboratories, materials, equipment and scientific advisors. You can become a real scientist here too!

Tags: Faculty of Physical-Mathematical and Natural Sciences
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