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New Technique Improves Efficiency Of Biofuel Production (from "woody" plants)

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:55 PM
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New Technique Improves Efficiency Of Biofuel Production (from "woody" plants) /

New Technique Improves Efficiency Of Biofuel Production

For Immediate Release

Release Date: 06.30.2010
Filed under Releases

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a more efficient technique for producing biofuels from woody plants that significantly reduces the waste that results from conventional biofuel production techniques. The technique is a significant step toward creating a commercially viable new source of biofuels.

This technique makes the process more efficient and less expensive, says Dr. Ratna Sharma-Shivappa, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State and co-author of the research. The technique could open the door to making lignin-rich plant matter a commercially viable feedstock for biofuels, curtailing biofuels reliance on staple food crops.

But now researchers from NC State have developed a new way to free the carbohydrates from the lignin. By exposing the plant matter to gaseous ozone, with very little moisture, they are able to produce a carbohydrate-rich solid with no solid or liquid waste.

This is more efficient because it degrades the lignin very effectively and there is little or no loss of the plants carbohydrates, Sharma-Shivappa says. The solid can then go directly to the enzymes to produce the sugars necessary for biofuel production.

Sharma notes that the process itself is more expensive than using a bath of harsh chemicals to free the carbohydrates, but is ultimately more cost-effective because it makes more efficient use of the plant matter.

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:59 PM
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1. Uh, I am pretty sure they have been doing this in Brazil, for like ten
Years. Their society has achieved a great deal of success with bio fuels, like ethanol, from the waste of the sugar cane.

But hey, we aren't a first or second world nation any more, so I guess I will applaud our eventual entry into the twenty first century.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Brazil's ethanol is primarily made from sugar cane
Edited on Wed Jun-30-10 02:41 PM by OKIsItJustMe

The Dirty Underside of Lula's Clean Energy Revolution

Brazil's biofueled paradise is looking more and more like a carbon-spewing wasteland.


When you fill up your car with a gasoline and ethanol blend most likely you are burning ethyl alcohol produced from U.S. corn. A few years from now, however, your commute may be powered by ethanol made from sugar cane cultivated in the Brazilian cerrado. An economic powerhouse dynamically bursting forth on to the world stage, Brazil is the Earth's largest producer of sugar cane ethanol. President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva has jumped on the ethanol bandwagon, repeatedly remarking that his country's fortunes depend on a future in which "we plant and harvest fuel." In So Paulo, a sprawling city of 18 million, motorists can fill up their tanks with either gasoline or ethanol, known in Brazil as alcool. Most opt for ethanol, not surprising given that this biofuel costs half the price of gasoline.

While sugar cane ethanol is certainly less ecologically destructive than some other biofuels, the industry's boosters have overlooked one key fact: You've got to plant sugar cane somewhere. One couldn't pick a worse place to harvest cane than Brazil's Atlantic rainforest. There, sugar cane crops have led to deforestation and, paradoxically, more carbon emissions.

The environmental destruction unleashed by ethanol in the Atlantic rainforest is troubling enough, but what if sugar cane were to lead to more deforestation in other sensitive areas? Today the Brazilian sugar cane industry is centered in the state of So Paulo -- drive just an hour out of the city and you can see sugar cane fields stretching for hundreds of miles. Palmares Paulista is a rural agricultural town 230 miles from So Paulo. Behind rusty gates lies a squalid red-brick tenement building. Inside, weary migrant workers breathe the stale air and try to prepare themselves as best they can for the long day ahead. The cortadores de cana, or sugar cane workers, are crammed into tiny cubicles filled with rickety bunk beds and unpacked bags. They hail from the poverty-stricken, drought-plagued northeast and earn paltry wages.

There's been a fierce back and forth between European and Brazilian officials on the question of biofuels. The top scientist at the U.K. Department for the Environment recently warned that mandating more biofuel use as proposed by the European Union would be "insane," as this would lead to an increase in greenhouse gases. Sweden, the only European country that already imports Brazilian ethanol for its public transportation system, used to think biofuels were heaven but now believes they are hell. After allegations that some Brazilian sugar cutters were paid paltry wages, were underage, and even perished at a young age from exhaustion, Swedish motorists threatened to cease their use of this supposedly green fuel. To make matters worse for the burgeoning Brazilian ethanol industry, the United Nations has added its voice to the chorus of critics. Achim Steiner, head of the body's environment program, declared that growing international demand for ethanol would threaten the Amazon if safeguards were not put in place.

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. They were planting sugar cane long before they were
Edited on Wed Jun-30-10 03:07 PM by truedelphi
using bio fuels.

So what they are doing is using the "waste" from the plant for something good.

Haven't time right now to read through the article you are posting -will see if my notions on this are wrong, or if this is yet another attack on something that shouldn't be attacked.
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TheMadMonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-02-10 02:52 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. I don't know that that much "waste" get's digested into ethanol.
It's the sugar being fermented by yeasts, with perhaps burning of the woody waste for heating the stills.

The process in the OP frees up the celulose bound up in woody plant parts by lignin. Achieving a higher yeild than existing processes.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-02-10 01:26 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. It is good to know the down side to these bio fuels, but it should also be pointed out
In Brazil, unlike the USA, they use the WASTE material from the plant. Not the food section, the waste.

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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. recommended.
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