Finnish chemistry professor Jyri-Pekka Mikkola develops “revolutionary” biofuel with higher octane than Gasoline or diesel, and he tried this new fuel in the Saab 900 that he inherited from his father. Gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel completely without pollution could soon become a reality and be a transitional solution until the transition to fully electric vehicles, or the importation of an alternative fuel such as hydrogen. It took Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, a professor at Umeå University, 10 years to solve the puzzle and come up with “green” gasoline.
– It was really difficult, but now it exists. I have tried to drive my father’s old Saab with the petrol and the car went like a rocket. It’s 102 octane, says Jyri-Pekka Mikkola. The basis is forest waste, food scraps or energy of forest. The intermediate step is ethanol and the gasoline is then produced in a special reactor developed by Jyri-Pekka.
Now, Doctor of Technology Jyri-Pekka Mikkola has been elected to Finland’s oldest and most prestigious Academy of Sciences, the Finnish Science Society, Societas Scientiarium Fennica, founded in 1838. Mikkola is Professor of Engineering Chemistry, Sustainable Development at Umeå University and Professor part-time at Åbo Akademi University. His active research and development activities have been of great importance to both universities. Mikkola is the author and co-author of about 350 peer-reviewed articles. He has in various ways also participated actively in the popularization of science and technology. He has an ability to inspire the younger generation of researchers: he has successfully supervised 20 doctoral theses at Umeå University and Åbo Akademi University. Four of his doctoral students have received national and international prizes for their doctoral theses.
Mikkola is an extremely imaginative researcher who has the ability to think out-of-the-box. In recent years, this has led to several top publications and patents. Professor Mikkola’s central research areas are catalytic processing of biomass into biofuels and valuable chemicals, development of new catalytic materials and application of ionic liquids in chemical processes.
Professor Jyri-Pekko Mikkola’s discovery makes it possible to obtain hydrocarbon-based fuel from various sugars, which can be found in all types of biomass. This means that gasoline, diesel and jet fuel can be produced using forest residues, sawdust, sugar beets, food scraps, agricultural waste or residues from waste water treatment plants.
The process devised by the Finnish professor starts with hydrolysis, which involves adding sulfuric acid and letting the lignocellulose in the biomass break down, a step unnecessary when the raw material is sugar beet or sugar cane, i.e. sugar. Then the sugar is fermented to produce alcohol — primarily ethanol — but any type of alcohol will do.
The mixture of ethanol and water is then fed into the reactor system, which consists of two 1.5 meter long pipes containing extremely complex catalysts. A catalyst increases the rate of chemical reactions without consuming itself.
Let’s remember that Saab introduced ethanol-powered Saab cars a long time ago, which can also use dual fuels. And also, let’s remember the conversion of the BSR company that converted the engine of a diesel Saab car so that it can use ethanol.