Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Chemical Process Produces Biofuel Strong Enough to Power Jets

Thanks to scientists harnessing the power of chemistry, you may one day soon fly in a plane fueled by plants. An article published in the journal Nature last week describes a new technique developed by researchers at UC Berkeley that can create biofuels powerful enough to be used as jet fuel. Created using bacterial fermentation and chemical catalysis, the amped up biofuel is ten times more powerful, and it can serve as a viable power source for large industrial vehicles and airplanes.

The researchers have created a two-step process that drastically increases the potency of biofuels. First, plant sugars are broken down through fermentation using the bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum,
producing acetone ethanol. Then, the resulting product is run through chemical catalysis in order to increase the amount of carbon in each molecule.

This new process ratchets up the amount of carbon present in normal ethanol by ten times, making it as powerful as diesel and jet fuel made from petrochemicals. The next challenge for the researchers is to find a way to duplicate their new methods on an industrial scale.

View the original article here

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