World Economy

Biofuel Can Be Produced From Agricultural Waste

Biofuel Can Be Produced From Agricultural WasteBiofuel Can Be Produced From Agricultural Waste

Agricultural waste has the potential to produce 400 billion liters of bioethanol each year, researchers have predicted.

A study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) pinpointed five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol – a well-known alcohol-based biofuel, FG Insight reported.

The research team said their findings could help to create biofuel which is more environmentally friendly and ethically sound than other sources because it would make use of waste products.

Lead researcher Dr Tom Clarke, from UEA’s school of biological sciences, said: “Dwindling oil reserves and the need to develop motor fuels with a smaller carbon footprint has led to the explosion of research into sustainable fuels.

“Bioethanol is a very attractive biofuel to the automotive industry as it mixes well with petrol and can be used in lower concentration blends in vehicles with no modifications.”

Currently, processes to generate bioethanol from straw and other by-products are complex and inefficient.

This is because high temperatures and acid conditions are necessary in the glucose-release process, but this process causes the waste to breakdown into compounds which are toxic to yeast, making fermentation difficult.

UEA researchers studied 70 strains of yeast to find the five most tolerant. They believe these could be used successfully in the fermentation process. It comes after the Government’s Transport Energy Task Force highlighted the important role sustainable biofuels will play in meeting the UK’s future transport needs.

Its latest report said there was a clear role for sustainable biofuels over the medium to longer term and at least to 2030 ‘when fossil transport fuels will still be dominant’.

The report, written in conjunction with the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) also called for a ‘robust and long-term route for ensuring the sustainability of all transport energy including biofuels’.