Researchers identify cheaper, greener biofuel processing catalyst
Research Institute, US, researcher B.K. Sharma and co-authors from the University of Birmingham have collaborated to develop a greener biofuels processing catalyst using waste metals and bacteria.
Their findings, published in the journal Fuel, specify a cheaper, more environmentally friendly and renewable catalyst for processing. It uses regular bacteria and the metal palladium, which can be recovered from waste sources such as catalytic converters, street sweeper dust, discarded electronics, and processed sewage.
The biofuel created in the lab from algae contains impurities like oxygen and nitrogen, but treating it with palladium as a catalyst during processing helps eliminate those impurities to meet clean-air requirements, Sharma said.
For the palladium to work well, the bio-oil must flow past it during processing. Earlier studies have revealed that allowing the oil flow through porous carbon particles infused with palladium is an effective technique, however those carbon particles are not economical, Sharma said.
To examine the effectiveness of the new method, Sharma and his co-authors performed a range of physical and chemical analyses to establish if their new processing treatment created a liquid fuel that matches in quality to one created using the commercially produced catalyst.The more expensive commercial catalyst has the added advantage that it can be used over and over without prolonged processing, while the Sharma group’s palladium-onbacteria catalyst will need to endure processing to be reused.