Thursday, March 10, 2011

Algae butanol converted; Fuel can be used in cars

Thursday, March 10, 2011
ScienceDaily (March 2, 2011)-A team of chemical engineers at the University of Arkansas developed a method can be used to convert common algae in a renewable fuel, butanol, the current combustible engine. The green technology benefits from and adds more value to a process now to clean and oxygen U.S. waterways by removing excess nitrogen and phosphorus is used by fertilizers in runoff.

"We can make cars go," said Jamie Hestekin, Assistant Professor and head of the project. "Our conversion process is efficient and cost effective." "Butanol has many advantages compared to ethanol, but the coolest, what is this process that we're actually making healthier rivers and Lakes of growing and harvesting of the raw material."

Hestekin and his research team - Graduates from the Honors College and several students, including PhD student, who has discovered a more efficient and technologically advanced fermentation methods-grow algae on "Careers," that long are troughs - typically 2 meters wide and 5-foot range to 80-meter-long, depending on the scale of the operation. The troughs consist of screens or carpet, although Hestekin said, algae will grow on almost any surface.

Algae survival on nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon dioxide and natural sunlight, so the researchers algae grow by nitrogen and phosphorus poor running Creek water over the surface of the troughs. Improve the growth through the provision of high concentrations of carbon dioxide by hollow fiber membranes, which look like long strands spaghetti. Local and State Governments have where fish and plants have killed excess nitrogen and phosphorus large-scale processes implemented in the first place on the East Coast, similar to this, so-called "dead zones," to meet.

The researchers harvest the algae every five to eight days by vacuuming or scratching you the screens. To wait until it is dry, you smash and the algae at a fine grinding powder as a means to extract of carbohydrates from plant cells. Carbohydrates consist of sugar and starch. Hestekin's team works with for this project strengthen. Treat the carbohydrates, with acid and then heat the strength to break apart and convert into simple, natural sugars. You start then unique fermentation steps in the organisms of the sugar in organic acid-acetic acid, butyric acid and lactic acid transform.

The second stage of fermentation focuses on butyric acid and its conversion into butanol. The researchers use a unique process called Electrodeionization, a technique developed by one of the Hestekin of the PhD students. This technique involves the use of a special membrane that quickly and efficiently separates the acids during the application of the electric charges. The rapid isolation of butyric acid, the process increases productivity, which makes the conversion process easier and less expensive.

Mentioned as Hestekin butanol has several important advantages over ethanol the current primary additive in gasoline. Butanol more energy per unit mass free and can be mixed in higher concentrations than ethanol. It is corrosive ethanol less than and can be transported through existing pipelines. These attributes are in taken in addition to the advantages of butanol's source. In contrast to corn are algae not in demand by the food industry. In addition you can be grown virtually anywhere and therefore requires no large parts of the valuable farmland.

Hestekin's team protection currently works with the New York City Department of environmental to create biofuels from algae at the Rockaway wastewater treatment plant in Queens fitted.

Research articles detailing were findings from algae to fuel project biotechnology and biotechnology and separation science and technology submitted.

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The above story is reprinted from materials, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville(with editorial changes by ScienceDaily staff).

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