New process doubles production of alternative fuel while slashing costs

Aug 14, 2012

A new discovery should make the alternative fuel butanol more attractive to the biofuel industry. University of Illinois scientist Hao Feng has found a way around the bottleneck that has frustrated producers in the past and could significantly reduce the cost of the energy involved in making it as well.

"The first challenge in butanol production is that at a certain concentration the fuel being created becomes toxic to the organism used to make it (Clostridium pasteurianum and other ), and that limits the amount of fuel that can be made in one batch. The second issue is the high of removing butanol from the fermentation broth at the high concentrations used by the industry. We have solved both problems," he said.

In the study, funded by the Energy Biosciences Institute, Feng's team successfully tested the use of a non-ionic surfactant, or co-polymer, to create small structures that capture and hold the butanol .

"This keeps the amount of butanol in the fermentation broth low so it doesn't kill the organism and we can continue to produce it," he said.

This process, called extractive fermentation, increases the amount of butanol produced during fermentation by 100 percent or more.

But that's only the beginning. Feng's group then makes use of one of the polymer's properties—its sensitivity to temperature. When the fermentation process is finished, the scientists heat the solution until a cloud appears and two layers form.

"We use a process called cloud point separation," he said. "Two phases form, with the second facing the -rich phase. When we remove the second phase, we can recover the butanol, achieving a three- to fourfold reduction in energy use there because we don't have to remove as much water as in traditional fermentation."

A bonus is that the co-polymers can be recycled and can be reused at least three times after butanol is extracted with little effect on phase separation behavior and butanol enrichment ability. After the first recovery, the volume of butanol recovered is slightly lower but is still at a high , he said.

According to Feng, manufacturers may want to take another look at butanol because it has a number of attractive qualities. Butanol has a 30 percent higher energy content than ethanol, lower vapor pressure, and is less volatile, less flammable, and mixes well with gasoline, he noted.

Explore further: Chemical biologists find new halogenation enzyme

More information: "Extractive fermentation with non-ionic surfactants to enhance butanol production" appeared in the May 2012 issue of Biomass & Bioenergy and can be accessed at dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biombioe.2012.02.007

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NotParker
1 / 5 (6) Aug 14, 2012
"Butanol has a 30 percent higher energy content than ethanol, lower vapor pressure, and is less volatile, less flammable, and mixes well with gasoline, he noted."

Therefore:

Ethanol has a 30 percent lower energy content than ethanol, higher vapor pressure, and is more volatile, more flammable, and mixes badly with gasoline ... and causes food prices to skyrocket.

tadchem
3 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2012
Butanol oxidizes in air to yield butyric acid. All our fuel stations will smell like rancid butter mixed with vomit. We WILL need a way to deodorize the butanol.
dschlink
3 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2012
Not very different from a 2009 article.
http://phys.org/n...tml#nRlv
wealthychef
2 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2012
"Butanol has a 30 percent higher energy content than ethanol, lower vapor pressure, and is less volatile, less flammable, and mixes well with gasoline, he noted."

Therefore:

Ethanol has a 30 percent lower energy content than ethanol, higher vapor pressure, and is more volatile, more flammable, and mixes badly with gasoline ... and causes food prices to skyrocket.


No, just because butanol mixes well with gasoline doesn't mean ethanol mixes poorly with it. But it does cause food prices to skyrocket. Also not mentioned is that ethanol mixes extremely well with water, which poisons the environment. Not sure if butanol also has this problem.
Parsec
5 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Butanol mixes well with water, but it isn't as hydrophilic. Pure ethanol actually draws water from the air to form a mixture that is only 95% ethanol. Pure butanol will not do this.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2012
ParkerTard is growing ever more stupid by the day.

"Ethanol has a 30 percent lower energy content than ethanol" - ParkerTard

His mental disease is in the terminal stages.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2012
Odd and here we have all been thinking that the extreme U.S. drought and heat had caused food prices to skyrocket.

A heat wave precipitated and exacerbated by Global Warming.

"(Ethanol) causes food prices to skyrocket." - ParkerTard

ParkerTard's mental disease is now in the terminal phase.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2012
It sounds like a great step forward. Interesting would be how toxic/amenable to recyclingthe copolymer is (and how much you ned of it per gallon of fuel produced), because this part:
A bonus is that the co-polymers can be recycled and can be reused at least three times

Seems to inidcate that there will be (substantial?) waste produced during the process.
hemitite
5 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2012
If a similar process can be adapted for ethanol production, the world could be flooded with cheap vodka...
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2012
Odd and here we have all been thinking that the extreme U.S. drought and heat had caused food prices to skyrocket.


Droughts do cause problems quite regularly, but the Ethanol Mandate forces corn to be burned as fuel.

It is raining now. And cold.

http://stevengodd...2-04.jpg

http://stevengodd...written/
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2012
ParkerTard is of course lying yet again.

"Droughts do cause problems quite regularly, but the Ethanol Mandate forces corn to be burned as fuel." - ParkerTard

Ethanol can be effectively produced through the fermentation of switchgrass, sugar cane, potatoes, or virtually any other high sugar or high starch plant.

Ethanol need not even be produced in the U.S. but could be purchased inexpensively from Cuba if needed, and of course nothing has damaged U.S. relations and the U.S. economy as much as the the Conservative economic embargo on Cuba.

Poor mentally diseased ParkerTard. Caught in yet another lie.
NotParker
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 15, 2012
ParkerTard is of course lying yet again.

"Droughts do cause problems quite regularly, but the Ethanol Mandate forces corn to be burned as fuel." - ParkerTard

Ethanol can be effectively produced through the fermentation of switchgrass, sugar cane, potatoes, or virtually any other high sugar or high starch plant.

Ethanol need not even be produced in the U.S. but could be purchased inexpensively from Cuba if needed, and of course nothing has damaged U.S. relations and the U.S. economy as much as the the Conservative economic embargo on Cuba.



Ethanol is produced from corn in the USA.

And the Democrats controlled both houses of congress and the presidency for 2 years and could have decided to trade with the mass murdering dictator in Cuba if they wished to.

Ethanol mandate forces cropland to be used for ethanol, even if it would be better used for corn that humans eat.

Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2012
But no legislation forces this to be so, contrary to your earlier lie.

"Ethanol is produced from corn in the USA." - ParkerTard

Which is yet another failure of America.

Poor mentally diseased Parker Tard.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2012
Somehow I think they were somewhat busy keeping your pathetic country from immediately entering a 30 year long Grand Depresssion.

No time to worry about how Toothless Conservatives from Corn Cob Country, were promoting corn as an automotive fuel.

"And the Democrats controlled both houses of congress and the presidency for 2 years" - ParkerTard
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2012
By definition any land that is used to grow a crop is cropland.

"Ethanol mandate forces cropland to be used for ethanol" - ParkerTard

Parker Tard's latest lie of omission (above) is in excluding the fact that crops like switch-grass need not be planted on traditional crop land.

I have never encountered a Conservative who wasn't a perpetual and congenital liar.
Shabs42
3 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2012
could have decided to trade with the mass murdering dictator in Cuba if they wished to


You mean like how we trade with every other mass murdering dictator in the world? I've never really seen what makes Cuba so different.

I actually do (sort of) agree with Parker on ethanol. I'm all for alternative energy research, but the way ethanol has been implemented in the US is rather silly. Feel free to blame those on the left and right for it; but as with a great many of our problems, lobbyists are the biggest culprits.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2012
By definition any land that is used to grow a crop is cropland.

"Ethanol mandate forces cropland to be used for ethanol" - ParkerTard

Parker Tard's latest lie of omission (above) is in excluding the fact that crops like switch-grass need not be planted on traditional crop land.



"In a statement, the EPA said that of that 15.2 billion gallon total, cellulosic ethanol would make up 8.65 million gallons, or 0.006 percent.

That is considerably short of the 500 million gallon target for 2012 set by congress in 2007"

FAIL
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2012
I've never really seen what makes Cuba so different.


Cuba invited the USSR to install short range ICBM's on the island with the plan to blackmail and eventually nuke the USA.

Of course I knew the missiles were nuclear- armed, responded Fidel Castro to Robert McNamara during a meeting in 1992. Thats precisely WHY I urged Khrushchev to launch them. And of course Cuba would have been utterly destroyed in the exchange.

If the missiles had remained, we would have fired them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York. The victory of socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims. (Che Guevara, November 1962.)

My dream is to drop three Atomic Bombs on New York City (Raulnot FidelCastro, Nov. 1960.)

But Hay Caramba! the Stalinist trio fumed and raged for years afterwards. Nikita Khruzchev, that sniveling maricon, snatched that magic button-pushing moment from our eager fingers!

We should deliver a nuclear first strike,
Shabs42
5 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2012
Don't really want to get into a big debate here because this isn't an issue I care very much about, but yes, I know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was. That was over 50 years ago and should have no bearing on current policy.

They're communist: So is China.
They have human rights violations: They pale compared to China.

Cuba has over 99% literacy, a higher life expectancy than the U.S, and a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. This despite lacking many essential medical supplies partially because of the embargo from the U.S.

I just don't like the double standard and see no reason why we should continue trading with China, but not Cuba.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2012
I just don't like the double standard and see no reason why we should continue trading with China, but not Cuba.


I'm unclear on this point as well...as far as I'm concerned we should lift the embargo. An embargo is just short of warfare. It's always better to try to engage people than beat them with sticks unless you have no other choice. This hasn't been the case with Cuba for years.

I'm also unclear as to exactly how lifting the embargo will greatly benefit the United States from and entirely practical standpoint either. It might win is some PR points in specific circles, however the Cuban economy isn't exactly a powerhouse....

All that being said, growing plants and burning them in internal combustion engines is and example of taking 10th millenia BCE technology and trying to apply it to 19th century technology. It's a bit difficult to take seriously if one thinks about it honestly IMO.

NotParker
1 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2012
Don't really want to get into a big debate here because this isn't an issue I care very much about, but yes, I know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was. That was over 50 years ago and should have no bearing on current policy.


I'm pretty sure inviting short range nukes onto your country with the firm intention of launching them DESERVES a lifetime ban ... no matter what propaganda the Cubans and leftist sympathizers put out.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2012
I'm pretty sure inviting short range nukes onto your country with the firm intention of launching them DESERVES a lifetime ban ...


And I'm pretty sure it doesn't :)

So we agree to disagree and the world keeps going round....
packrat
3.5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2012
The corn that is mandated for ethanol use is pretty much 'dent' corn that is not edible by humans. It is used for animal feed. The lack of rain has seriously cut into the output per acre. This is causing the loss of cattle, hogs and catfish farmers as many are having to sell off breeding stock because they can't afford the feed. The price of meat is already starting to increase due to the problem. The gov refuses to relax the alcohol mandates so some of the corn is going to that regardless of the fact the farmers need it. Dumb government response as usual.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2012
The corn that is mandated for ethanol use is pretty much 'dent' corn that is not edible by humans. It is used for animal feed.


A lot of the ethanol crop is "New land".

"Land planted with corn soared by a fourth after Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which required that gasoline producers blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol into the nations gasoline supply by 2015."

"Researchers at Texas A&M University have estimated that diverting corn to make ethanol forces Americans to pay $40 billion a year in higher food prices. On top of that, it costs taxpayers $1.78 in subsidies for each gallon of gasoline that corn-based ethanol replaces, according to the Congressional Budget Office."

http://www.bloomb...ore.html
gopher65
not rated yet Aug 19, 2012
Yeah, ethanol corn is almost entirely unsuitable for human consumption. However, because it can be used for feed, it drives up feed costs, and a small amount of human-edible food ends up being consumed by livestock.

It won't make a huge difference if all that ethanol corn were to go to feedstock, but it would have a small effect.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
Yeah, ethanol corn is almost entirely unsuitable for human consumption. However, because it can be used for feed, it drives up feed costs, and a small amount of human-edible food ends up being consumed by livestock.

It won't make a huge difference if all that ethanol corn were to go to feedstock, but it would have a small effect.


There are important questions:

How much energy to grow corn for ethanol versus energy produced?

Could the land used for ethanol produce corn suitable for humans or animals?

What would be the price of corn without the ethanol mandate?
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
ParkerTard here claims that Non-Corn Ethanol has prevented America from importing 8.65 million dollars of oil.

"In a statement, the EPA said that of that 15.2 billion gallon total, cellulosic ethanol would make up 8.65 million gallons, or 0.006 percent." - ParkerTard

For some reason he feels that reducing America's trade deficit is a bad thing.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
Sorry. Cuba did no such thing. But it did allow the Soviets to begin construction on a missile system for defense against U.S. attack, and to counter the deployment of American Nuclear missiles in Turkey.

"Cuba invited the USSR to install short range ICBM's on the island with the plan to blackmail and eventually nuke the USA." - ParkerTard

It seems to be a goal of ParkerTard to tell at least one lie in every sentence he writes.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
Producing Ethanol from corn is net energy Negative.
Everyone knows that.

Ethanol continues to be employed by America as an "energy saving" measure because America is a failure as a nation.

"How much energy to grow corn for ethanol versus energy produced?" - ParkerTard

On the other hand, using Ethanol to reduce dependence on foreign oil and reduce gasoline particulate emissions is a reasonable goal.

Either way, ParkerTard's whining is just more evidence of his mental disease.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
Yes, but Americans have decided that it is more important to feed their cars than produce food for human consumption.

"Could the land used for ethanol produce corn suitable for humans or animals?" - ParkerTard
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
He was right. The world would have been a better place for it.

"Thats precisely WHY I urged Khrushchev to launch them." = RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2012
A more important question is what would be the price of Corn if the U.S. grain belt were not reverting to desert as a result of the Warming Globe that ParkerTard denies?

"What would be the price of corn without the ethanol mandate?" - ParkerTard

ParkerTard can expect ever increasing food prices as the food production regions of his failed nation become unsuitable for crop production.

Cows eating candy during the drought - http://www.wpri.c..._4323303
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
A more important question is what would be the price of Corn if the U.S. grain belt were not reverting to desert ...


Iowa Trend

Annual 1895 - 2011 Trend = 0.40 Inches / Decade

That means rain has been going up at .4 inches per decade.

Up.

What a clown you are VD.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2012
Yes, and soil moisture continues to drop due to increased evaporation induced by higher temperatures.

"Iowa Trend Annual 1895 - 2011 Trend = 0.40 Inches / Decade" - ParkerTard

NotParker
1 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2012
Yes, and soil moisture continues to drop due to increased evaporation induced by higher temperatures.


Nonsense. Here are the 12 warmest years for Iowa:

1931 52.1 117 117
1987 51.3 116 116
1921 51.0 115 115
1998 50.9 114 114
2006 50.3 113 113
1934 50.3 113 113
1938 50.2 111 111
1939 50.1 110 110
1941 50.0 109 109
1954 49.7 108 108
1946 49.6 107 107
1933 49.6 107 107

Kansas is getting wetter too.

Kansas Precipitation: Annual 1895 - 2011 Trend = 0.24 Inches / Decade