Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sugar, not oil: New possibilities for isobutene from wood sugar

Date:
March 25, 2014
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
No more oil – renewable raw materials are the future. This motto not only applies to biodiesel, but also to isobutene, a basic product used in the chemical industry. In a pilot plant researchers now want to obtain isobutene from sugar instead of oil for the first time. And in order not to threaten food supplies, in the long term the sugar should come from wood or straw and not from sugar beet.

In the pilot plant at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP researchers are producing oil substitutes from renewable raw materials.
Credit: Gunter Binsack / Fraunhofer CBP

No more oil -- renewable raw materials are the future. This motto not only applies to biodiesel, but also to isobutene, a basic product used in the chemical industry. In a pilot plant researchers now want to obtain this substance from sugar instead of oil for the first time. And in order not to threaten food supplies, in the long term the sugar should come from wood or straw and not from sugar beet. Researchers will present these new activities at the Hannover Trade Fair / Industrial GreenTec from 7 to 11 April in Hannover.

Plastic, gasoline, rubber -- many items we use every day are based on oil. But this raw material is becoming increasingly scarcer. Step by step researchers are therefore investigating possibilities for using renewable raw materials to replace oil. One well-known example of this is biodiesel, which comes not from oil sources, but from fields of yellow-flowering rape. In future it is planned to produce another substance from plants, namely isobutene, a basic chemical used in the chemical industry to produce fuels, solvents, elastomers or even antiknock agents in fuel. Sugar, not oil, will be used to produce this isobutene. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP in Leuna are planning to set up a pilot plant.

Valuable product of "digestion"

The basis of this was provided by staff at the company Global Bioenergies: They introduced the unique metabolic conversion of sugar to isobutene into a microorganism: If sugar is added to this microorganism, it "digests" it -- and out comes gaseous isobutene. To develop and construct this pilot plant, Global Energies will receive 5.7 million euros from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF. The company got the CBP on board as a partner. "We have the expertise for both the biotechnological and the chemical processes, and we meet all the requirements for successfully getting the project off the ground" said a very pleased Gerd Unkelbach, Director of CBP. "For example, we are able to handle isobutene: when mixed with air explosive mixtures are formed."

Construction of the 600 m2 pilot plant will start in the CBP technical center as of the fall of 2014 and it is planned that it will come into operation a year later. The large-scale processes will take place like in the laboratory: Sugar and the microorganism go into a fermenter which converts the sugar to gaseous isobutene. The isobutene is separated, purified, liquefied and filled into containers. Once the process has been transferred from the laboratory to the pilot scale, the plant will produce up to 100 tons of isobutene per year.

Sugar from wood

Sugar as a raw material has a big advantage over oil: It grows back. However, as a result of this, isobutene production is in competition with the food industry, as the sugar that ends up in the pilot plant is lost as a foodstuff. For this reason the researchers want to change tack in future, away from sugar from sugar beet to sugar from renewable raw materials that are not suitable as foods. Wood for example.

"The sugar we use is thus totally independent of food production" explained Unkelbach. The technological basis of this is already available at the CPB in the lignocellulose biorefinery. Here the researchers break wood down into its individual components: Cellulose, i.e. sugar, hemicelluloses and lignin.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Sugar, not oil: New possibilities for isobutene from wood sugar." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140325094816.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2014, March 25). Sugar, not oil: New possibilities for isobutene from wood sugar. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140325094816.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Sugar, not oil: New possibilities for isobutene from wood sugar." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140325094816.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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