Researchers using nanotechnology in biofuel process to save money, environment

Oct 08, 2009

Dr. James Palmer, associate professor of chemical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, is collaborating with fellow professors Dr. Yuri Lvov, Dr. Dale Snow, and Dr. Hisham Hegab to capitalize on the environmental and financial benefits of "biofuels" by using nanotechnology to further improve the cellulosic ethanol processes.

Biofuels will play an important part in sustainable fuel and energy production solutions for the future. The country's appetite for fuel, however, cannot be satisfied with traditional crops such as sugar cane or corn alone. Emerging technologies are allowing cellulosic biomass (wood, grass, stalks, etc.) to also be converted into .

Cellulosic ethanol does not compete with food production and has the potential to decrease (GHG) emissions by 86 percent over that of today's fossil fuels. Current techniques for only reduce greenhouse gases by 19 percent.

The nanotechnology processes developed at Louisiana Tech University can immobilize the expensive enzymes used to convert cellulose to sugars, allowing them to be reused several times over and, thus significantly reducing the overall cost of the process.

Savings estimates range from approximately $32 million for each cellulosic ethanol plant to a total of $7.5 billion if a federally-established goal of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol is achieved. This process can easily be applied in large-scale commercial environments and can immobilize a wide variety or mixture of enzymes for production.

The innovative research taking place at Louisiana Tech, along with an excellent growing season, a strong pulp/paper industry, and one of the nation's first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plants, has the state of Louisiana well positioned to become a national contributor in cellulosic ethanol.

This technology, along with other important research being conducted to meet future energy needs, will be highlighted at Louisiana Tech's Energy Systems Conference on November 5 at the Technology Transfer Center in Shreveport.

Source: Louisiana Tech University

Explore further: Research offers 'promise' of improved food safety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers advance cellulosic ethanol production

Sep 08, 2008

A team of researchers from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering and Mascoma Corporation in Lebanon, N.H., have made a discovery that is important for producing large quantities of cellulosic ethanol, a leading candidate ...

DOE publishes research roadmap for developing cleaner fuels

Jul 07, 2006

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released an ambitious new research agenda for the development of cellulosic ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. The 200-page scientific "roadmap" cites recent advances in biotechnology ...

Process can cut the cost of making cellulosic biofuels

Jan 22, 2009

A patented Michigan State University process to pretreat corn-crop waste before conversion into ethanol means extra nutrients don't have to be added, cutting the cost of making biofuels from cellulose.

Recommended for you

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

23 hours ago

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Apr 16, 2014

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

User comments : 0

More news stories

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...