Biofuel from Whiskey

Celtic Renewables has found a way to turn a byproduct from the creation of whiskey into something even more flammable: fuel. This will greatly lower the wast from whiskey distillation while contributing to the growing field of bio-energy. Neat!

This isn’t the first time someone has thought to turn whiskey waste into energy. A handful of other distilleries, including the American bourbon producer Maker’s Mark, use anaerobic digesters to convert waste into biogas, which is then used to fuel the distilling process—a neat little closed-loop system. But Celtic Renewables’ process creates three useful substances instead of just one.

When I spoke to the company’s founder and chief scientific officer, an Irish industrial microbiologist named Martin Tangney, he excitedly ennumerated the virtues of the byproducts his process produces: As a fuel, biobutanol is 25 percent more efficient than ethanol. Acetone has all kinds of industrial uses—plus, it’s a nail-polish remover. The animal feed is rich in protein.

Read more at Mother Jones.

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Solar Power for Gas Production

Here’s a novel idea to conserve energy, use the sun to separate chemicals which can then be used as fuel thereby consuming less energy to create fuel.

Researchers have developed a novel thermochemical reactor that uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into hydrocarbon-fuel precursors at a relatively high efficiency.

The new thermochemical reactor is believed to be more efficient than previously developed ones, whose efficiencies could not be comparably measured. And it is amenable to continuous operation, suggesting that an industrial-scale version of the process could be developed for solar towers.

Read more here

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Whisky Biofuel from Scotland

A lot of people enjoy Scottish whisky and now their cars can also enjoy the same beverage. Scottish scientists have figured out how to use the byproducts of whisky production as a source for biofuel.

Copious quantities of both waste products are produced by the £4bn whisky industry each year, and the scientists say there is real potential for the biofuel, to be available at local garage forecourts alongside traditional fuels. It can be used in conventional cars without adapting their engines. The team also said it could be used to fuel planes and as the basis for chemicals such as acetone, an important solvent.

The new method developed by the team produces butanol, which gives 30% more power output than the traditional biofuel ethanol. It is based on a 100-year-old process that was originally developed to produce butanol and acetone by fermenting sugar. The team has adapted this to use whiskey by-products as a starting point and has filed for a patent to cover the new method. It plans to create a spin-out company to commercialise the invention.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Algae Fuel Getting Better

I’m a firm believer in algae.

It seems that the future of our clean water, energy, and fuel can all come from algae. Indeed, algae can produce good products as an alternative to oil. Indeed, more research has gone into using algae as a fuel source and it looks more promising than ever.

Read about at Physorg.

“We’re looking at microscopic marine algae that produce fatty acids and do not have a cell wall. We plan to genetically modify the algae so that they will continuously produce these fatty acids, which we can then continually harvest,” Roberts says. “We also plan to genetically modify the algae to produce fatty acids of a specific length, to expedite the conversion of the fatty acids into fuels that can be used by our existing transportation infrastructure.” Specifically, Roberts says, “the goal is to create fuels that can be used in place of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel – though jet fuel will be the most technically challenging.” In other words, they hope to make fuels that are 100 percent compatible with the existing fuels’ storage and distribution system and run in existing vehicles – no modifications necessary.

And, Roberts stresses, “it has to be cost-competitive, or none of this makes sense. It’s easy to be cost-competitive when oil is at $300 a barrel, but it’s harder when the price of oil drops. Our goal is to optimize this technology so that it is cost-competitive, renewable, can be produced domestically and is environmentally friendly.”

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CO2 Turned into Fuel by Solar Powered Device

A device that can transform CO2 in fuel can prove to be revolutionary. The very idea of using the sun’s rays to get rid of CO2 is great in itself – making that same process create a type of diesel fuel is even better. In theory, waste from inefficient gas cars can be used to make cheaper fuel for more efficient diesel cars, which would drive demand for more diesel cars from cheaper fuel.

The researchers housed a 2-centimetre-square section of material bristling with the tubes inside a metal chamber with a quartz window. They then pumped in a mixture of carbon dioxide and water vapour and placed it in sunlight for three hours.

The energy provided by the sunlight transformed the carbon dioxide and water vapour into methane and related organic compounds, such as ethane and propane, at rates as high as 160 microlitres an hour per gram of nanotubes. This is 20 times higher than published results achieved using any previous method, but still too low to be immediately practical.

If the reaction is halted early the device produces a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen known as syngas, which can be converted into diesel.

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