Wednesday, May 13, 2009

3 Dead Birds From Algal Stone and More

U. of Minnesota researchers plan to use one algal stone to kill three birds: wastewater purification, production of biomass, and production of fertilisers.
A pilot project for growing algae in a wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul, Minn., will serve two functions: removing nitrogen and phosphorus from the water before it’s flushed into the Mississippi River and flows into the Gulf of Mexico; and producing algal biomass for future use in the manufacturing of biofuels. In addition, the extracted nitrogen and phosphorus will be used to produce fertilizers. _Biomass
Algae will eventually find many purposes to fulfill, so that it may kill as many as 6 or 10 birds with one stone, so to speak.

Also interesting, scientists in Munich are perfecting the "one step" conversion of pyrolysis oil to alkane hydrocarbons using catalysts in a single reaction vessel.
Bio-oil is an aqueous, acidic, highly oxidized mixture. However, its high oxygen content and instability turn out to have a negative impact: bio-oil cannot be used directly as a liquid fuel. It would, however, be highly interesting as a source of basic raw materials if it were possible to convert it to alkanes. Alkanes, which are also commonly called paraffins, are saturated hydrocarbons; they are among the most important raw materials for chemical industry, and in particular as starting materials for the production of plastics. Furthermore, they are among the primary fuels in the world’s economy.

Bio-oil contains a phenolic fraction consisting of compounds with the main framework being an aromatic ring made of six carbon atoms with some hydroxy (-OH) groups attached. With the new process, the phenolic components of bio-oil can be converted with high selectivity to cycloalkanes (ring-shaped alkanes) and methanol. The researchers were able to demonstrate this with various model substances. As catalyst, they used palladium metal on a carbon support, with phosphoric acid as the proton source for the reaction. _Bioenergy


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