Environmentally friendly fuels, including ethanol, bioelectricity and hydrogen from converted landscape waste, will be the ultimate result of a proposed collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the City of Naperville in Illinois.

Through the partnership, known as the "Green Fuels Depot," Argonne will use its expertise in biofuels processing and green vehicle technologies to characterize and evaluate the three choices (ethanol, bioelectricity and hydrogen) as potential fuels for the city's vehicle fleet. Argonne also will assist in the development of advanced vehicles that can use these renewable energy sources, including plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Naperville-based Packer Engineering and the College of DuPage also will participate in the initiative.

The depot will use a gasifier from Packer Engineering to convert grass, leaves, branches and other biomass into syngas, a gas mixture that contains carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The syngas then can be used to create cellulosic ethanol, bioelectricity or hydrogen.

Although the proposal calls for trying all three fuel types, Glenn Keller, manager of vehicle systems in Argonne's Center for Transportation Research, said it would be more practical to concentrate on producing just one fuel when the depot is built. Because Naperville's official vehicle fleet already includes flex-fuel vehicles that run on both gasoline and ethanol, any cellulosic ethanol produced by the depot could be quickly put to use.

Although the pilot project will use only 3 percent of the annual landscape waste collected by the city, if all 48,000 yd3 of Naperville's landscape waste were used in a full-scale Green Fuels Depot, it would be enough to fuel all 300 vehicles in the city fleet.