Rice in your gas tank: Boosting biofuel production from rice straw

May 26, 2008
Rice Straw
Scientists report the production of biofuels from rice straw (above), which is a leftover from harvesting the grain. Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Researchers in China are reporting a discovery that could turn rice straw into an inexpensive new renewable source of biofuel. Their new study, scheduled for the July 16 issue of ACS' bimonthly journal Energy & Fuels, describes a way to boost production of biofuel from rice straw by almost 65 percent.

In the new study, Xiujin Li and colleagues point out that China is the world's largest rice producer, a crop that leaves behind about 230 million tons of rice straw each year. Rice straw is the stem and leaves left behind after harvesting the grains.

Scientists, however, have not tapped rice straw for production of biogas because bacteria cannot easily break down its cellulose due to the complex physical and chemical structures of lignocellulosic biomass.

The researchers treated rice straw with sodium hydroxide before allowing bacteria to ferment it into a biogas. That so-called pretreatment increased biogas production by making more cellulose and other compositions in straw available for digestion by the bacteria. Three prototype facilities have been built in China using this technology.

Article: "Physiochemical Characterization of Rice Straw Pretreated with Sodium Hydroxide in the Solid State for Enhancing Biogas Production" dx.doi.org/10.1021/ef8000967

Source: ACS

Explore further: Transforming farm residues into biofuels and more

Related Stories

Transforming farm residues into biofuels and more

August 14, 2015

To cut the cost of biofuels, their production-process can be enhanced to include additional valuable biochemical compounds. A recent experimental study focuses on one source of biomass: residues from Brazilian palm oil production.

Elucidation of chemical ingredients in rice straw

June 17, 2015

For the first time, researchers at Kobe University and RIKEN successfully elucidated the biochemical and biofuel-producing materials contained in rice straw. Future applications include using these materials in species of ...

Silicon: An important element in rice production

April 28, 2015

Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element of the earth's crust after oxygen. It has long been neglected by ecologists, as it is not considered an essential nutrient for plants. However, research of recent years showed ...

Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint

April 28, 2014

Many efforts to reduce the environmental impacts associated with commercial horticulture production have failed to influence the general public. For example, one recent study showed that the use of organic fertilizers offered ...

Recommended for you

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Not another new phone! But Nextbit's Robin is smarter

September 2, 2015

San Francisco-based Nextbit wants you to meet Robin, which they consider as the smarter smartphone. Their premise is that no one is making a smart smartphone; when you get so big it's hard to see the forest through the trees. ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.