Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Method Uses Electrolyzed Water For More Efficient Fuel Production

Date:
July 29, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Using electrolyzed water rather than harsh chemicals could be a more effective and environmentally friendly method in the pretreatment of ethanol waste products to produce an acetone-butanol-ethanol fuel mix, according to new research.

Feng's lab conducted experiments comparing the use of electrolyzed water to the traditional chemicals.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Using electrolyzed water rather than harsh chemicals could be a more effective and environmentally friendly method in the pretreatment of ethanol waste products to produce an acetone-butanol-ethanol fuel mix, according to research conducted at the University of Illinois.

Related Articles


When ethanol is produced, distiller's dried grain with solubles (DDGS) is a waste product. The DDGS is primarily used as animal feed, but researchers are searching for ways to extract the sugar and ferment it to produce an acetone-butanol-ethanol fuel mix. One obstacle has been in the production phase called pretreatment.

"For any biofuel production you need to have simple sugars such as glucose," said U of I researcher Hao Feng. The glucose in DDGS is stuck together, forming cellulosic corn fiber, but the structure is very tough. It forms a kind of crystalline structure which is very difficult to break, said Feng.

"In order to get the glucose out, we need to somehow destroy the structure. Normally people use a strong acid such as sulfuric acid, or a strong lime base, to loosen it, making holes in it. Once the structure is destroyed, we use enzymes to cut the chain of glucose to get glucose that can be used for fermentation."

But destroying the structure with chemicals creates some unwanted effects. "When you break down the structure, sometimes you can produce compounds which are not friendly to the microorganisms used in fermentation. These are what we call inhibitors – they kill the microorganisms like the Baker's yeast used to make ethanol," said Feng.

Feng is actually a University of Illinois food scientist. He has been using electrolyzed water in his lab to kill bacteria and other bugs such as E. coli on fresh fruits and vegetables. "We have a machine with two electrodes. Water is neutral, but we use electricity to split the water into two portions with different properties – one is acidic and one is alkaline," said Feng.

Realizing that these similar properties in sulfuric acid and lime are used to pretreat DDGS in fuel production, Feng's lab conducted experiments comparing the use of electrolyzed water to the traditional chemicals.

"Using the strong sulfuric acid method, there was no fuel produced," said Feng. "The toxic compounds killed the microbes that produce acetone-butanol-ethanol mix completely. Using the alkaline sodium hydroxide as a base, after 60 hours, the acetone-butanol-ethanol production was also relatively low." Feng explained that the delay in production is evidence of toxicity. "The organism has to spend a lot of time trying to adapt to the new environment."

"But using acidic electrolyzed water, at about 20 hours the fermentation process began producing the acetone-butanol-ethanol mix. This is an example of less inhibitor production with electrolyzed water compared with the traditional method."

Feng said that this new technique also eliminates one production step. "With the traditional acid method they have to remove the toxicity. With electrolyzed water, there is no need for this detoxification, so this process should be more economical as well. The other advantage of this method is that the traditional method produces a large quantity of solid waste that needs to be handled, and some sugars get consumed in the process as well. We want to maximize the sugar yield so we can maximize the ethanol yield."

At this point, the process has been successful on the scale of a small laboratory. "Our next step is to look at the economic feasibility of this process," Feng said. "Technically it is doable but economically we'll need to compare it with the traditional method and we'll need additional funding to do that. Then we can move up to the pilot scale."

Part of the results from the study is published in a 2009 issue of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. The work is done in collaboration with Hans Blaschek's lab with participants including Bin Wang, Thaddeus C. Ezeji, Zhen Shi, Xiaojuan Wang, and Yi Wang. The research is supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "New Method Uses Electrolyzed Water For More Efficient Fuel Production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727135532.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2009, July 29). New Method Uses Electrolyzed Water For More Efficient Fuel Production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727135532.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "New Method Uses Electrolyzed Water For More Efficient Fuel Production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727135532.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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