Concern over ever decreasing oil supplies, increasing levels of pollution and energy independence have been the primary driving forces behind significant efforts focused on the development of new technologies capable of increasing the production of alternative fuels. To-date, ethanol and to a lesser extent biodiesel have been the only alternative fuels or fuel additives to gain widespread use and be synthesized on a commercial scale. Currently, most of the World’s ethanol is produced from renewable biomass. The biomass feedstocks and fermentation broths used in ethanol production contain high amounts of water, and therefore, the energy efficiency of the process is lessened due to product separation processes (azeotropic separation of water and ethanol) that are non-trivial and energy intensive (due to the evaporation of water). An alternative route to produce ethanol, which negates the need for costly distillation processes, is via the catalytic conversion of syngas (CO and H2) generated from biomass.
Gundamaraju, Anuradha; He, Ming; and Bruce, David A., "Effect of CO Adsorption and Coverage on Ethanol Production from Syngas" (2015). Chemical and Biomolecular Graduate Research Symposium. 19.