Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quick Bio-Energy

Iowa State University researchers have won the 2008 grand prize for university research from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, for their research that is destined to revolutionize maize ethanol production.
Van Leeuwen said all of that can save US ethanol producers a lot of energy and money at current production levels: eliminating the need to evaporate thin stillage would save ethanol plants up to US$800million a year in energy costs.

Allowing more water recycling would reduce the industry’s water consumption by as much as 10billion gallons/y. And it allows producers to recycle enzymes in the thin stillage, saving about US$60million/y. Adding value and nutrients to the livestock feed produced by ethanol plants would grow the market for that feed by about US$400million per year. In addition, the researchers’ fungal process would improve the energy balance of ethanol production by reducing energy inputs so there is more of an energy gain. _Bioenergy
Meanwhile, University of Georgia researchers have developed a clean new pre-treatment process for the production of cellulosic biofuels.

University of Colorado researchers are pursuing the use of a solar "flash-pyrolysis" technique for converting cellulosic biomass to syngas.

Finally, African biofuels are taking off quickly--especially in Tanzania. Tanzanian farmers currently use only 6% of suitable agricultural land.

We are perhaps a decade away from widespread industrial scale profitable production of liquid and gaseous biofuels. But we are already using solid biofuels (via torrefaction) profitably in medium scale power plants. And the local and regional production of sustainable oilseed crops such as jatropha, moringa, pongamia, etc. in the tropical third world is only beginning. The empowerment of small farmers around the world should go a long way toward building stabilizing participatory local and regional governments worldwide.

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