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Production Cost and Carbon Footprint of Biomass-Derived Dimethylcyclooctane as a High-Performance Jet Fuel Blendstock


Near-term decarbonization of aviation requires energy-dense, renewable liquid fuels. Biomass-derived 1,4-dimethylcyclooctane (DMCO), a cyclic alkane with a volumetric net heat of combustion up to 9.2% higher than Jet A, has the potential to serve as a low-carbon, high-performance jet fuel blendstock that may enable paraffinic bio-jet fuels to operate without aromatic compounds. DMCO can be produced from bio-derived isoprenol (3-methyl-3-buten-1-ol) through a multistep upgrading process. This study presents detailed process configurations for DMCO production to estimate the minimum selling price and life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint considering three different hydrogenation catalysts and two bioconversion pathways. The platinum-based catalyst offers the lowest production cost and GHG footprint of $9.0/L-Jet-Aeq and 61.4 gCO2e/MJ, given the current state of technology. However, when the supply chain and process are optimized, hydrogenation with a Raney nickel catalyst is preferable, resulting in a $1.5/L-Jet-Aeq cost and 18.3 gCO2e/MJ GHG footprint if biomass sorghum is the feedstock. This price point requires dramatic improvements, including 28 metric-ton/ha sorghum yield and 95-98% of the theoretical maximum conversion of biomass-to-sugars, sugars-to-isoprenol, isoprenol-to-isoprene, and isoprene-to-DMCO. Because increased gravimetric energy density of jet fuels translates to reduced aircraft weight, DMCO also has the potential to improve aircraft efficiency, particularly on long-haul flights.

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