Climate Change maize ears after garvest shutterstock_165477674

Published on February 4th, 2014 | by Glenn Meyers

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New technique makes 'biogasoline' from plant waste

What follows is a new discovery from chemists at University of California, Davis in producing organic waste materials that can be used for transportation fuel to mitigate some of the negative effects of climate change. Bravo!

maize ears after garvest shutterstock_165477674

Gasoline-like fuels can be made from cellulosic materials such as farm and forestry waste using a new process invented by chemists at the University of California, Davis. The process could open up new markets for plant-based fuels, beyond existing diesel substitutes.

“What’s exciting is that there are lots of processes to make linear hydrocarbons, but until now nobody has been able to make branched hydrocarbons with volatility in the gasoline range,” said Mark Mascal, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author on the paper published Jan. 29 in the journalĀ Angewandte Chemie.

Traditional diesel fuel is made up of long, straight chains of carbon atoms, while the molecules that make up gasoline are shorter and branched. That means gasoline and diesel evaporate at different temperatures and pressures, reflected in the different design of diesel and gasoline engines.

Biodiesel, refined from plant-based oils, is already commercially available to run modified diesel engines. A plant-based gasoline replacement would open up a much bigger market for renewable fuels.

The feedstock for the new process is levulinic acid, which can be produced by chemical processing of materials such as straw, corn stalks or even municipal green waste. It’s a cheap and practical starting point that can be produced from raw biomass with high yield, Mascal said.

“Essentially it could be any cellulosic material,” Mascal said. Because the process does not rely on fermentation, the cellulose does not have to be converted to sugars first.

UC Davis has filed provisional patents on the process. Coauthors on the paper are postdoctoral researchers Saikat Dutta and Inaki Gandarias.

Source: AAAS EurekAlert

Photo: Maize ears after harvest from Shutterstok




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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers is editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.



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