Planet Ark talks about researchers who are developing more efficient ways to manufacture biofuels, which could generate enough fuel to supply the entire US transporation sector while also sharply reducing the amount of raw materials required to produce it.
The recent increases in the use of ethanol is causing turmoil among environmentalists because most of today’s biofuel is made from grain, and prices are increasing. Also, there are concerns of deforestation occuring in order to grow crops for fuel. So a new method to reduce the amount of plant and plant derived material used to make biofuel is welcome news.
Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana believe that by recycling the carbon dioxide that is wasted in current manufacturing methods, they can greatly increase the efficiency and develop a process that, “…decouples the food problem from the transportation problem,” according to Rakesh Agrawal, a chemical engineer at Purdue and lead author of a study that appeared in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the typical method of producing biofuel, about two-thirds of the material is lost as carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. By using a system that could recycle that lost carbon dioxide into usable fuel by forcing it to react with hydrogen, they would have a much more efficient process reducing the amount of biomass needed to make fuel.