Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Techniques Create Butanol, A Superior Biofuel

Date:
January 28, 2008
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Environmental engineers are plying new techniques to produce a biofuel superior to ethanol. The fuel is butanol; it can be derived from lignocellulosic materials, which are plant biomass parts that range from woody stems and straw to agricultural residues, corn fiber and husks, all containing in large part cellulose and some lignin.

Lars Angenent, WUSTL environmental engineer, in his Urbauer Hall laboratory. Angenent is part of a team using new techniques to produce the biofuel butanol.
Credit: Image courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis

A team of researchers headed by an environmental engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is plying new techniques to produce a biofuel superior to ethanol.

The fuel is butanol; it can be derived from lignocellulosic materials, which are plant biomass parts that range from woody stems and straw to agricultural residues, corn fiber and husks, all containing in large part cellulose and some lignin.

Butanol is considered to be a better biofuel than ethanol because it's less corrosive and has a higher caloric value, giving it a higher energy value. Like ethanol, butanol is being considered as an additive to gasoline.

Lars Angenent, Ph.D., assistant professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering, takes pre-treated corn fiber, a byproduct of corn-to-ethanol production, from his collaborators at the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) research facility in Peoria, Ill., and places the lignocellulosic biomass into digesters comprised of a selected mixed culture of thousands of different microbes to convert the biomass into butyrate.

From there, the material is sent back to Peoria where another collaborator, Nasib Qureshi. Ph.D., converts the butyrate to butanol using fermenters.

The USDA researchers Bruce Dien, Ph.D., and Michael Cotta, Ph.D. use physical and chemical techniques to make the hard-to-degrade lignocellulosic material more amenable to degrade, an important step that allows Angenent's mixed media culture to work its magic.

He uses a mixed culture containing thousands of different microorganisms and optimizes environmental conditions to select for a bacterial community that makes an environment conducive to the conversion of the corn fiber to butyrate.

Mixed culture magic

"The thrust of my lab is the use of mixed cultures," said Angenent. "The advantage of mixed cultures is that it can take just about any waste material, and through our manipulations, convert it into something valuable. For instance, I can alter the pH in this culture. By keeping it neutral, I can get methane gas, but when I lower the pH, I can get butyrate. If I have a pure culture, on the other hand, I have to worry about other organisms slipping in and altering or contaminating the environment.

"Lignocellulosic biomass is plentiful, renewable and a good way to deal with wastes. By using it, we open the door for better economic opportunities for crop producers and rural communities. And because this kind of biomass is carbon-neutral, we don't worry about carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere."

Using microbial fuel cells and his mixed media cultures, Angenent, in recent years, has produced electricity or hydrogen in the process of treating wastewater.

He is the principal investigator of a USDA grant for $425,000 for this research, along with his co-P.I.s from USDA.

The butanol bandwagon is growing. In 2006, chemical maker DuPont and the British oil company BP announced a collaboration with British Sugar to introduce butanol made from sugar beets as a gasoline-blending additive in the United Kingdom.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "New Techniques Create Butanol, A Superior Biofuel." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080123153142.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2008, January 28). New Techniques Create Butanol, A Superior Biofuel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080123153142.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "New Techniques Create Butanol, A Superior Biofuel." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080123153142.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins