Thursday, August 07, 2008

Energy Bites

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have mapped the metabolism of the Nostoc bacteria, in order to demonstrate how to use the microbes own metabolic pathways to produce energy.

Jatropha currently only produces 1/4 th the amount of oil per hectare as palm oil. But genomic scientists in Malaysia are aiming to boost jatropha's yield. Jatropha is a hardier plant than palm and grows on more marginal soils--building soil quality while protecting nearby crops from insects and animal pests.
...jatropha is renewable, does not compete with existing food stocks, works just as good as regular diesel, is less polluting and significantly cheaper.

UC Berkeley researchers have discovered a new process to directly convert cellulosics into furanics--high energy organic liquids.
The process yielded 71% CMF; 8% 2-(2-hydroxyacetyl)furan; 5% HMF; and 1% levulinic acid. Total, isolated yield of these four simple organics was thus 85%. Applied to glucose, the process delivered the same organics in yields of 71%, 7%, 8% and 3%, respectively. Applied to sucrose, it yielded 76%, 6%, 4% and 5% respectively.

While CMF itself is not a biofuel candidate, it can be combined with ethanol to give ethoxymethylfufural (EMF). CMF can also be catalytically hydrogenated to yield 5-methylfurfural (HMF). Both of these compounds are suitable as fuels. EMF has previously been investigated and found to be of interest in mixtures with diesel by Avantium Technologies, a spin-off of Shell. _GCC
The use of biofuels--such as methanol, ethanol, or methane--in fuel cells is quite promising. U. of Virginia researchers are developing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) that convert biofuels to energy that operate at lower temperatures, making them stabler and longer-lasting.

Brain Wang provides a link to a symposium on electric aircraft. The more energy density that can be put into electric storage, the more likely that you will be seeing (but not necessarily hearing) electric powered aircraft overhead.



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