Surplus biomass from the production of flax shives, and generated from Brassica carinata, a yellow-flowered plant related to those which engulf fields in spring, can be used to produce bioethanol. This has been suggested by two studies carried out by Spanish and Dutch researchers and published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.
"These studies evaluate, from an environmental point of view, the production of bioethanol from two, as yet unexploited sources of biomass: agricultural residue from flax (for the production of paper fibres for animal bedding), and Brassica carinata crops (herbaceous plant with yellow flowers, similar to those which carpet the countryside in spring)", Sara Gonzlez-Garca, researcher of the Bioprocesses and Environmental Engineering Group of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), explains to SINC.
Gonzlez-Garca, along with other researchers from USC, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the University of Leiden (Holland), has confirmed that if bioethanol is produced from these two types of biomass "both CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption will be reduced, meeting two of the objectives established by the European Union to promote biofuels".
These works have analysed the environmental load associated with the different stages of the process: the harvesting of flax or Brassica; the production of ethanol (through enzymatic hydrolysis followed by fermentation and distillation); mixing it with petrol (in varying proportions); and its use in passenger automobiles.
The results of both studies, published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, show that the use of ethanol-based fuels can help to mitigate climate change (by reducing greenhouse gases).
However, these fuels also "contribute to acidification, eutrophication, the formation of photochemical oxidants and toxicity (for people and the environment)". Acc
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology