Navigation Links
New biofuel process dramatically improves energy recovery
Date:7/10/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods.

The results, published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology, showcase a novel way to use microbes to produce biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes.

Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist, has developed bioelectrochemical systems known as microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs, using bacteria to breakdown and ferment agricultural waste into ethanol. Reguera's platform is unique because it employs a second bacterium, which, when added to the mix, removes all the waste fermentation byproducts or nonethanol materials while generating electricity.

Similar microbial fuel cells have been investigated before. However, maximum energy recoveries from corn stover, a common feedstock for biofuels, hover around 3.5 percent. Reguera's platform, despite the energy invested in chemical pretreatment of the corn stover, averaged 35 to 40 percent energy recovery just from the fermentation process, said Reguera, an AgBioResearch scientist who co-authored the paper with Allison Spears, MSU graduate student.

"This is because the fermentative bacterium was carefully selected to degrade and ferment agricultural wastes into ethanol efficiently and to produce byproducts that could be metabolized by the electricity-producing bacterium," Reguera said. "By removing the waste products of fermentation, the growth and metabolism of the fermentative bacterium also was stimulated. Basically, each step we take is custom-designed to be optimal."

The second bacterium, Geobacter sulfurreducens, generates electricity. The electricity, however, isn't harvested as an output. It is used to generate hydrogen in the MEC to increase the energy recovery process even more, Reguera said.

"When the MEC generates hydrogen, it actually doubles the energy recoveries," she said. "We increased energy recovery to 73 percent. So the potential is definitely there to make this platform attractive for processing agricultural wastes."

Reguera's fuel cells use corn stover treated by the ammonia fiber expansion process, an advanced pretreatment technology pioneered at MSU. AFEX is an already proven method that was developed by Bruce Dale, MSU professor of chemical engineering and materials science.

Dale is currently working to make AFEX viable on a commercial scale.

In a similar vein, Reguera is continuing to optimize her MECs so they, too, can be scaled up on a commercial basis. Her goal is to develop decentralized systems that can help process agricultural wastes. Decentralized systems could be customized at small to medium scales (scales such as compost bins and small silages, for example) to provide an attractive method to recycle the wastes while generating fuel for farms.


'/>"/>
Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@cabs.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated, new study reveals
2. Discovery of plant proteins may boost agricultural yields and biofuel production
3. Creating energy from light and air - new research on biofuel cells
4. Better plants for biofuels
5. Algae biofuels: the wave of the future
6. A fragrant new biofuel
7. Is seaweed the future of biofuel?
8. Gladstone scientists identify critical process in stem cell development
9. Living microprocessor tunes in to feedback
10. New research reveals challenges in genetically engineered crop regulatory process
11. Insect glands may illuminate human fertilization process
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/20/2016)... -- The rising popularity of mobility services such ... significant interest in keyless access systems. Following the ... (BLE), biometrics and near-field communication (NFC) are poised ... technologies in the automotive industry. This evolution from ... opens the market to specialist companies such as ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... 16, 2016 The global wearable medical device market, in ... 2021 from USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of ... ... technological advancements in medical devices, launch of a growing number of ... connectivity among healthcare providers, and increasing focus on physical fitness. ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... HILLS, Mich. , Dec. 15, 2016  There ... unlocking car doors or starting the engine. Continental will ... in Las Vegas . Through the ... (Passive Start and Entry) and biometric elements, the international ... field of vehicle personalization and authentication. "The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... January 20, 2017 , ... G&L Scientific Inc, a leading ... http://www.gandlscientific.com ), has announced the opening of new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, strengthening ... contractors. This is the latest step in G&Lā€™s expansion of its global clinical ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... 2017 Interpace Diagnostics Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... clinically useful molecular diagnostic tests and pathology services, ... securities purchase agreement with three  institutional investors to ... stock in a registered direct offering.  In a ... sell to the same investors warrants to purchase ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... --  Boston Biomedical , an industry leader in the ... pathways, today presented data from two clinical studies for ... Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in ... In a Phase Ib/II study of napabucasin ā€“ an ... pathways by targeting STAT3 ā€“ colorectal cancer (CRC) patients ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company, announced ... the synthesis and assembly of DNA. The acquisition ... synthetic DNA into Ginkgo,s automated organism engineering foundries, ... of new organism designs for application across a ... founded to significantly increase the world,s capacity to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: