Scientists discover tobacco tree that could be used as biofuel

Nov 29, 2012
Scientists discover tobacco tree that could be used as biofuel
Initial studies have shown that the plant is able to grow in extreme climate conditions such as those found in Dubai.

Researchers at Royal Holloway have been awarded a grant from the European Union, after identifying a tobacco tree that could produce biofuels.

Scientists in the School of Biological Sciences discovered that Nicotiana Glauca produces compounds that can be used as a biodiesel. This could be used directly as fuel or cracked to produce .

Significantly, the plant is known to grow well in warm and arid climates. It does not require fertile ground and can thrive in regions that only get 200mm of rainfall a year, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.

"This is a crucial factor," Dr Paul Fraser from the School of Biological Sciences said. "It means that growing this crop will not be in competition for land space with . Indeed, many farmers have already raised concerns about giving their land over to biofuel crops. Our discovery could potentially solve this issue."

Initial studies have shown that the plant is able to grow in desert climatic conditions, such as those found in the , North Africa and other arid tropical regions of the world. It has been noted as a possible source of bioethanol and biodiesel, which can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but is usually used as an additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles.

According to the , biofuels have the potential to meet more than a quarter of world demand for transportation fuels by 2050.

The European Union has awarded funding to develop this work further through the MultiBioPro project. Together with partners in industry and academia they have received a research grant totalling 5,770,922 euros (approximately £4.4 million). The project will look to provide new insights into biological processes and improve the use of . These developments are expected to have a real impact on fossil-fuel based , leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Explore further: Organic apple orchards benefit from green compost applications

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU sets tight biofuel standards

Jun 10, 2010

(AP) -- The European Union's top energy official set out tough standards for producing biofuels sold in the EU, demanding producers meet strict environmental criteria.

Biodiesel fuel use growing steadily

Jul 03, 2006

Biodiesel fuel, a renewable energy source, is beginning to integrate into the U.S. farming and trucking industries, the San Francisco Chronicle says.

Biodiesel won't drive down global warming

Apr 23, 2007

EU legislation to promote the uptake of biodiesel will not make any difference to global warming, and could potentially result in greater emissions of greenhouse gases than from conventional petroleum derived diesel. This ...

EU cuts use of food-based biofuels

Oct 17, 2012

The European Commission said Wednesday that it was cutting targets for the use of biofuels so as to reduce the negative impact on food production and prices.

Recommended for you

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

3 hours ago

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

The microbes make the sake brewery

3 hours ago

A sake brewery has its own microbial terroir, meaning the microbial populations found on surfaces in the facility resemble those found in the product, creating the final flavor according to research published ahead of print ...

Fighting bacteria—with viruses

4 hours ago

Research published today in PLOS Pathogens reveals how viruses called bacteriophages destroy the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which is becoming a serious problem in hospitals and healthcare institutes, due to its re ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Iochroma
not rated yet Nov 29, 2012
This species has a high potential to become an invasive species; it is already listed in many places including California. Perhaps the researchers will find a non-fertile form for the safety of natural areas.