Escherichia coli bacteria produce diesel on demand

It sounds like science fiction but a team from the University of Exeter, with support from Shell, has developed a method to make bacteria produce diesel on demand. While the technology still faces many significant commercialisation ...

Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds

Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as ...

Ready-to-use recipe for turning plant waste into gasoline

Bioscience engineers at KU Leuven, Belgium, already knew how to make gasoline in the laboratory from plant waste such as sawdust. Now, the researchers have developed a road map, as it were, for industrial cellulose gasoline.

Chance finding could transform plant production

An almost entirely accidental discovery by University of Guelph researchers could transform food and biofuel production and increase carbon capture on farmland.

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Biofuel

Biofuel is defined as solid, liquid or gaseous fuel obtained from relatively recently lifeless or living biological material and is different from fossil fuels, which are derived from long dead biological material. Also, various plants and plant-derived materials are used for biofuel manufacturing.

Globally, biofuels are most commonly used to power vehicles, heat homes, and for cooking. Biofuel industries are expanding in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Recent technology developed at Los Alamos National Lab even allows for the conversion of pollution into renewable bio fuel. Agrofuels are biofuels which are produced from specific crops, rather than from waste processes such as landfill off-gassing or recycled vegetable oil.

There are two common strategies of producing liquid and gaseous agrofuels. One is to grow crops high in sugar (sugar cane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum) or starch (corn/maize), and then use yeast fermentation to produce ethyl alcohol (ethanol). The second is to grow plants that contain high amounts of vegetable oil, such as oil palm, soybean, algae, jatropha, or pongamia pinnata. When these oils are heated, their viscosity is reduced, and they can be burned directly in a diesel engine, or they can be chemically processed to produce fuels such as biodiesel. Wood and its byproducts can also be converted into biofuels such as woodgas, methanol or ethanol fuel. It is also possible to make cellulosic ethanol from non-edible plant parts, but this can be difficult to accomplish economically..

Solid biomass is also used. Many materials such as wood and grasses can be dried and pelletised and burnt; and this can be used for power production. Although this produces some clinker the processing uses less energy and this can give higher overall efficiency.

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