Biofuels are a modern option for power generation—literally. While it can take hundreds of millions of years to create fossil fuels, biofuels relay on contemporary biological processes, such as plant growth or the production of wastes that can be converted into fuel for power generation. NETL research and development, and the transfer of NETL-developed technologies to private-sector companies for commercialization, advances both kinds of fuels.

Want an example? Here’s one.

NETL recently granted CogniTek (Northbrook, Ill.)—an energy company that’s honing biofuels into efficient, clean, sources of power—a license for two of its patented sorbent technologies. The technologies capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from streams of mixed gases and enable cleaner, more-efficient energy production. CogniTek plans to incorporate the technologies into an integrated biomass-to-biofuels conversion process with power generation.

Essentially, the CogniTek process will take biomass (often corn, but also quick-growing grasses and trees, nuisance crops, and agricultural waste) and, in one process, transform it into fuel and then energy, while also capturing carbon. The liquid fuels created during the process can also be used as a transportation fuel option for vehicles, including hybrids.

The process will have naturally low carbon emissions because the plants used as feedstock consume carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. Incorporating the NETL technologies makes an inherently green process even greener, and is expected to result in a near 100 percent “carbon negative” process.

NETL is excited its cutting-edge sorbent technologies are being deployed in such an innovative way. Without technology transfer, the exciting advances made in NETL and DOE’s other national laboratories would never make a difference in the world. By licensing these technologies to CogniTek, NETL is making green technology positively verdant.