Alternative fuels

  • EU requirements stating that all fuel must contain 10% biofuel by 2020 are fast approaching.
  • Butanol is a common biofuel that may be added to petrol at concentrations approaching 20% without changes being made to combustion engines. Produced via the microbial fermentation of sugars (e.g. corn, sugar cane), butanol production is often at odds with food  production, competing for agricultural land and fertiliser.
  • Researchers have recently shown that wood biomass may be used to produce butanol, thus representing a raw  material not in competition with food production.
  • The technology effectively separates  the usable components of wood biomass permitting more efficient use of each fraction  leading to more efficient use of the raw material. Researchers envision the transformation  of pulp and paper mills into modern biorefineries.

For countries lacking a pulp industry the quest is to identify alternative non-food feedstocks for biofuel production as well as opportunity to integrate existing industrial  processes into biorefineries.

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About Hayley Shaw

Knowledge Exchange Manager at Cranfield University's Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF). Sharing the latest news from Cranfield, and insights from across the industry. All things risk, environment, and the future.
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