Next Generation Bio-Fuels
Scientists predict that within a decade the current method of bio-fuel production is likely to be replaced with advanced bio-fuels. Advanced bio-fuels, which include butanol, isobutanol and other alcohol systems, deliver the performance of gasoline without the environmental impact. Two other energy crops are sunflowers and fodder maize. These crops also help to eliminate supply scarcity and reduce greenhouse gases and dirty emissions. And above all, they will avoid the Bio-Fuels Debate around crops for bio-fuels and crops for food.
From Material Which Would Otherwise Go Waste
As first generation bio-fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel is facing severe challenges, mostly in terms of production costs, efficiency, transport and distribution, and costly vehicle modification. Though, plant-derived bio- fuel is carbon neutral - CO2 released is offset by the amount of the gas absorbed by the plants when they grew – it’s another story when tending the plant, harvesting, processing and transporting the finished is also taken into account.
The second generation bio-fuel from materials like straw which would otherwise go to waste will not compete with grain for food and feed.
Butanol has higher energy content per gallon than many first generation bio-fuels. They can be used in gas fired vehicles without modification or blending. These advanced bio-fuels first need to be fermented (like beer or wine) using a microorganism to produce the crude bio-fuel product. Refining of the crude product brings about the final bio-fuel.
100 Percent Greener
There are greater environmental benefits from next-generation bio-fuels compared to the traditional ones. Whereas the latter produces in 40-80% less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to gasoline or diesel, next-generation bio-fuels can result in up to 100% fewer GHG emissions on a life-cycle basis compared to these fuels.
The new advanced bio-fuels will begin growing in overdrive from 2015 when out put from corn-based ethanol in the US is expected to peak. And by 2020 production from new sources -- even garbage that contains carbon -- is mandated to overtake output of corn ethanol.
Difference Lies in Lignocelluloses
Lignocelluloses is a type of bio-mass which will help more than double the yield. Second generation bio-fuels will use the same amount of energy-intensive fertilizers and fungicides but will achieve a much higher output of usable material. The higher output will also give much smaller carbon footprint. Lignocellulosic crops like poplar and switchgrass, which can be grown on land less suitable for farming than traditional row crops.
A research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago pointed out that miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) grass is a more productive bio-energy source than switchgrass.
Cellulosic Ethanol: Spinning Straw into Fuel
Conventional ethanol is derived from grains such as corn and wheat or soybeans. Cellulosic ethanol can be produced from a wide variety of cellulosic biomass feedstocks including agricultural plant wastes (corn stover, cereal straws, sugarcane bagasse), plant wastes from industrial processes (sawdust, paper pulp) and energy crops grown specifically for fuel production, such as switchgrass. Cellulosic biomass is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, with smaller amounts of proteins, lipids (fats, waxes and oils) and ash.
Though cellulosic ethanol is chemically identical to ethanol from other sources, such as corn or sugar, , it differs in that it requires an extra processing step called cellulolysis -- breaking cellulose down into sugars.
Trichoderma reesei is a fungus best known for its ability to break down and convert plant biomass into simple sugars. A team of US and French researchers, partly funded by the EU, have completed sequencing the entire genome of this fungus, thus opening up newer avenues for producing bio-fuels from non-food crops. With enzymes, known as cellulases that have potent catalytic properties for breaking down plants. trichoderma reesei was first discovered during World War II
- Automobiles, the second largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution after coal, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually
- The U.S. is the No 1 global warming polluter in the world. Just 4% of the world's population, it produces 25% percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels burning.
- Due to global warming, more than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050.
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