31 January 2008

More Biofuels News: Going High-Tech

This is impressive: scientists at Purdue University and Chrysler LLC have genetically engineered poplar trees to function for both phyto-remediation of pollutants, and as a feedstock for cellulosic biofuels.
In a study Meilan co-authored, published last October in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, poplar cuttings removed 90 percent of the TCE (trichloroethylene) within a hydroponic solution in one week. The engineered trees also took up and metabolized the chemical 100 times faster than unaltered hybrid poplars, which have a limited ability to remove and degrade the contaminant on their own, he said....The transgenic poplars contain an inserted gene that encodes an enzyme capable of breaking down TCE and a variety of other environmental pollutants, including chloroform, benzene, vinyl chloride and carbon tetrachloride....TCE, the most common groundwater pollutant on Superfund sites, is a probable human carcinogen and causes various health problems when present in sufficiently high levels in water or air.

....Besides their utility in phytoremediation, or pollution removal, poplars have promise as a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. To investigate their potential in this area, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded a $1.3 million grant to Meilan and two colleagues, professors Michael Ladisch, agricultural and biological engineering, and lead researcher Clint Chapple, biochemistry....They are currently investigating ways to alter the composition of poplar lignin, which provides rigidity to the plant cell wall by binding to strands of cellulose, a complex sugar that can be converted into ethanol.___NextEnergy

Transgenic poplars that extract, process, and eliminate pollutants--AND--can also be used to make cellulosic biofuels. Impressive.

Meanwhile, Oxford Catalysts is devising better catalysts for converting biomass to liquid fuels.
FT catalysts are ... important in the emerging field of biomass-to-liquids (BTL) which yields ultra-clean synthetic biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass.

Developing new catalysts can be a time consuming process, and each catalyst has to be custom-made for a particular application to suit a customer's requirements. Having this expanded lab facility will allow us to carry out the necessary testing to provide our customers with the essential information they need about a catalyst more quickly. It will also help us to develop further new and innovative catalysts at a rate that will allow us to meet demand for new applications within the clean fuels area as they continue to arise. - Derek Atkinson, Business Development Director, Oxford Catalysts___Source

The government of India's Department of Biotechnology is investing in cellulosic biofuels and other renewable biologically generated liquid fuels.

The University of Washington is financing research to turn forestry and agricultural waste into useful biofuels.

Canadian company Outlook Resources Inc. is getting into the "biomass fuel cube" business. Fuel cubes made of biomass are a sustainable alternative to coal and gas for traditional heating and power generation uses.

It is becoming clearer that those who denied the potential of bio-energy could not have been more wrong. Now that the potential is finally becoming reality--as particularly now that bio-energy is going high-tech--the sky is the limit.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts