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Biomass

— Environment

Researchers develop fermentation process to produce biofuels from waste biomass

Imagine a world where vehicles run on beer. Some might think of this as a devastating waste of good hops, but a University of Maryland (UMD) team sees a lot of promise for the idea. The team has been awarded a patent for a process that uses natural microorganisms to ferment biomass or gases into hydrocarbons. In short, they've figured out how to brew gasoline naturally.

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— Environment

New production process makes PLA bioplastic cheaper and greener

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable bioplastic that is already used to produce a variety of everyday items, such as cups, trays, bowls and vegetable wrapping foil. Unfortunately, the current PLA production process is expensive and produces waste. Researchers at the KU Leuven Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis in Belgium have now developed a new production technique that is cheaper and greener and makes PLA a more attractive alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

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— Architecture

Urban Algae Canopy will generate a 4-hectare forest's worth of oxygen

London's ecoLogicStudio has demonstrated a full-scale prototype of its urban algae canopy at the "Feeding the Planet" expo in Milan. This "bio-digital" structure sees fluid filled with microalgae organisms pumped around an otherwise transparent shelter to produce dynamic shade, energy in the form of biomass, and an impressive amount of oxygen, while responding to the presence of visitors to produce interesting visual effects.

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— Environment

Researchers produce hydrogen quickly and cheaply using plant waste

Hydrogen is the ideal gas for use in low-emissions combustion engine or fuel cell-powered vehicles, due to its almost non-existent greenhouse gas emissions. Production costs, however, are higher compared to gasoline and around 95 percent of it is currently produced, somewhat counter-intuitively, from fossil fuels. Now researchers at Virginia Tech claim to have created a method to produce hydrogen fuel using a biological technique that is not only cheaper and faster, but also produces hydrogen of a much higher quality ... and all from the leftover stalks, cobs, and husks of corn. Read More
— Environment

Modular biobattery plant turns a wide range of biomass into energy

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a "biobattery" in the form of a highly efficient biogas plant that can turn raw materials like straw, scrap wood and sludge into a variety of useful energy sources including electricity, purified gas and engine oil. The new plant design, currently being put to the test in a prototype plant in Germany, is said to be highly modular and economically viable even at the small scale. Read More
— Science

New technique uses most abundant gas on Earth to help create bioethanol

Zymomonas mobilis bacterium might be tricky to say, but this bioethanol-producing microbe could become a household name if Indiana University biologists have their way. The biologists claim have found a quicker, cheaper, cleaner way to increase bioethanol production in this microorganism by using the most abundant element in the Earth’s atmosphere: nitrogen gas (N2). By replacing chemical fertilizers with N2, production costs could be slashed and cellulose ethanol derived from wood pulp made much more economically viable – so much so that the researchers believe it may compete with corn ethanol and gasoline on price. Read More
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