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New technique could help to lower cost of next-generation biofuels


Published Jul 22, 2014
Fungi-Hefe-Biofilm auf Membran

According to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, world temperatures could rise to threatening levels within 30 years if fossil fuels continue to be incinerated at current rates. Alternative fuels can be derived from sustainable organic sources using intensive refinement methods, known as bioprocessing. To encourage this technology’s proliferation, Swiss scientists have developed a method for streamlining biofuel production using chemical engineering to consolidate fundamental stages in the production chain

“It’s imperative that we find alternatives to fossil based combustibles,” says Dr Michael Studer of Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH-HAFL) in Zollikofen. “Second generation biofuels are a viable solution to this dilemma, which could be provided at sufficient scale to address these problems immediately.” In contrast to first generation biofuels made from edible crops like sugarcane or corn, the resource for such advanced biofuels is lignocellulosic biomass, the most ubiquitous organic material on earth. Unfortunately, the processing techniques for refining lignocellulose are much more elaborate and expensive compared to first generation feedstocks. “Consequently,” says Studer, “economic conversion of biomass into chemicals and fuels is an important scientific challenge.”




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