The need for a biofuel that can be used in standard automobiles is needed more everyday as the bloody global thirst for oil only increases. Thankfully researchers have engineered a bacteria that can produce a fuel substance that can be used in standard internal combustion engines.
To be used as a mainstream alternative to fossil fuels – desirable because biofuels are carbon-neutral over their lifetime – engines would have to be redesigned, or an extra processing step employed to convert the fuel into a more usable form.
To try to bypass that, John Love from the University of Exeter in the UK and colleagues took genes from the camphor tree, soil bacteria and blue-green algae and spliced them into DNA from Escherichia coli bacteria. When the modified E. coli were fed glucose, the enzymes they produced converted the sugar into fatty acids and then turned these into hydrocarbons that were chemically and structurally identical to those found in commercial fuel.
Read more at New Scientist.
The full text can be found here, thanks to Reddit!
UC Berkeley chemical engineers have used an old way to make explosives to make biofuels more efficiently. They are using a technique that can turn sugar-rich plants (like corn and some grasses) into a liquid that acts like gasoline does know by providing a tiny explosive force when ignited. The process was used in mass production for explosives in WWI which means that with UC Berkley’s new advances it’s not impractical to mass produce today.
The resulting substance burns as well as petroleum-based fuel and contains more energy per gallon than ethanol, according to the study. It can be produced using a variety of renewable starches and sugars that can be grown in crops.
“You can take a wide variety of sugar sources – from corn, sugar cane, molasses to woody biomass or plant biomass – and turn it into a diesel product using this fermentation process,” said Blanch, adding that about 90 percent of the raw material remains in the finished product, reducing the loss of carbon. “Grasses are also a possible source. Eucalyptus could also be used. Anything that’s fast-growing.”
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.
A restaurant in downtown Toronto has converted their deep fryer into a more efficient model and use the waste oil from the fryer to fuel a car. Neat!
Since installing the new deep fryer in late January, Broughton says his vegetable oil use has been cut in half and the amount of gas to run the fryer has been drastically reduced.
“The fryer is supposed to use 40 per cent less gas, but we’re still assessing exactly how much we’re saving. Just from the lower vegetable oil use, I’m saving $80 a week, about $4,000 a year. My waste used to be about 100, 110 litres a week. Now it’s about 50 litres a week. Angelo now takes pretty much all of our used oil for his car.”
Rigitano says the only problem he has had so far with the car is when he took it to be serviced.
“My mechanic started laughing. He said, ‘I’m getting hungry.’ ”
Fact: According to Natural Resources Canada, North Americans produce 5 to 6 kg per person of trap grease removed from commercial cooking operations each year and another 3 to 5 kg of cleaner used cooking oils. Converting this could produce almost 2.5 billion litres of clean diesel a year, worth about $2 billion.
Read the full article at The Star.
Cars love inefficiently sucking down dead dinosaur juice, though hopefully for not much longer. In the meantime some companies have figured ways to produce cellulosic ethanol cheaply using more sustainable ways – basically a cheaper way to make biofuel for cars to burn on their way to wherever cars go.
Modern biofuels are better to use than dinosaur-based biofuels (which take millions of years to manufacture and I haven’t seen dinosaurs in years) so until we kick humanity’s gas addiction let’s use biofuels.
Novozymes, the world’s largest industrial enzyme producer, today launched a new line it says will yield ethanol from plant wastes at an enzyme price of about 50 cents a gallon. The latest product of a decade of research, this marks an 80 percent price drop from two years ago, according to Global Marketing Director Poul Ruben Andersen.
The advances, Andersen said, will help bring cellulosic ethanol production prices to under $2 a gallon by 2011, a cost on par with both corn-based ethanol and gasoline at current U.S. market prices.
Yesterday, Novozyme’s competitor, California-based Genencor, a division of enzyme giant Danisco, announced its own new enzyme product, which falls within a similar price range of about 50 cents to make a gallon of fuel, according to Philippe Lavielle, executive vice president of business development.
Keep reading at the New York Times