Hopefully, your old newspapers don’t just end up in the landfill. In the future, however, they might not even be used to make more paper – instead they may be the feedstock for a biofuel-producing strain of bacteria. Named “TU-103,” the microorganism was recently discovered by a team of scientists at New Orleans’ Tulane University. It converts cellulose – such as that found in newspapers – into butanol, which can be substituted for gasoline.
Ethanol is the most commonly used biofuel worldwide and is made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials, usually sugar and starch crops such as sugar cane, corn and wheat. The difficulty in accessing the sugars contained in woody biomass, coupled with criticism that the use of food crops for biofuel production has a detrimental effect on the food supply
has prompted research into biofuels that can be made from cellulosic biomass
, such as trees and grasses. By looking at the digestive system of termites, researchers have now discovered a cocktail of enzymes that unlocks access to the sugars stored within the cells of woody biomass that could help make it a more viable source of biofuels, such as ethanol.
Victorinox has opened a public online vote to choose the best sustainable design submission to its "Time to Care" competition. The call for entries has been open since January 2011, and the seven best were chosen by jury in May. Throughout June, July, and August, the top seven designs are open to a public vote. The ultimate winner will be awarded prize money at a ceremony in October, and work with Victorinox to bring the design project to fruition.
With the rising price of fuel and more stringent emissions regulations, there is a strong need for the aviation industry to begin taking steps to earn its green wings. It's not surprising therefore that biofuel
was one of the hot topics at this week's Paris Air Show
with both Boeing's 747-8
and Gulfstream's G450 business jet making the trip across the Atlantic on biofuel blends. The G450 flew in from Morristown, New Jersey, after a seven hour flight in which one of its Rolls-Royce engines was powered by a 50/50 blend of Honeywell Green Jet Fuel and petroleum-based jet fuel.
One of the aircraft on display at next week's Paris Air Show will be Boeing's new 747-8
Freighter. While the 76-meter (250-foot) jumbo jet will no doubt be pretty impressive to see on the ground, what many gawkers may not realize is that its flight from Seattle to
Paris will have marked an aviation milestone - it will be the first time a commercial aircraft has crossed the Atlantic Ocean using biofuel.
have added yet another string to their microscopic bows with a new study showing that the addition of alumina nanoparticles can improve the performance and combustion of biodiesel, while producing fewer emissions. In the study, a team at India’s National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli used nanoparticles with an average diameter of 51 billionths of a meter. The high surface-to-volume ratio of the nanoparticles means they have more reactive surfaces, which allows them to act as more efficient chemical catalysts and results in increased fuel combustion.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota have announced a breakthrough in the quest to create a viable fuel alternative using greenhouse gases
. The process uses two types of bacteria to create hydrocarbons from sunlight and carbon dioxide. Those hydrocarbons can in turn be made into fuel, which the scientists are calling "renewable petroleum."
The U.S. Air Force’s goal of acquiring 50 percent of its domestic aviation fuel via alternative fuel blends derived from domestic sources by 2016 got a boost on Friday March 18, when an F-22 Raptor was successfully flown at speeds of up to Mach 1.5 on a 50/50 fuel blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8 (Jet Propellant 8) and biofuel
derived from an inedible plant called camelina. The flight capped off a series of ground and flight tests carried out earlier in the week for the Raptor using the biofuel blend to evaluate its suitability in the F-22 weapons system.
With the situation in Libya causing a spike in fuel prices worldwide there's some good biofuel
-related news out of the U.S. Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) that could help to reduce many countries' dependence on oil imports. For the first time, BESC researchers have succeeded in producing isobutanol directly from cellulosic plant matter using bacteria. Being a higher grade of alcohol than ethanol, isobutanol holds particular promise as a gasoline replacement as it can be burned in regular car engines with a heat value similar to gasoline.
Agave is a very hardy, useful plant. It grows in hot, arid conditions, and has found use in the production of beverages, food, and fiber. Now, it looks like it could have yet one more use – a Mexican botanist believes it could be an excellent biofuel feedstock. Not only does it grow quickly, but global climate change shouldn’t adversely affect it, and it doesn’t compete with food crops.