New process makes ethanol sus­tain­able

Tehran Times - - SCIENCE - (Source: oil­

Swe­den’s Univer­sity of Borås doc­toral stu­dent Ramku­mar Nair has shown it is pos­si­ble to pro­duce bioethanol from agri­cul­tural and in­dus­trial waste in ex­ist­ing plants in a so­cioe­co­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able way.

Nair said, “I have been ver­i­fy­ing a process that we hope will work in an in­dus­trial scale, when it comes to us­ing ex­ist­ing ethanol fac­to­ries. Thanks to that process, the in­dus­try can be­come more sus­tain­able and use agri­cul­tural or in­dus­trial waste for the pro­duc­tion of bioethanol.”

Bioethanol is used for fuel for ethanol cars, among other things. Usu­ally, wheat, sugar canes, or corn are used for ethanol pro­duc­tion. In Swe­den, wheat is the most com­mon.

“But these are crops that could be used as hu­man nu­tri­tion,” he said. “It is more sus­tain­able if we could use waste to cre­ate fuel, and this is some­thing we have been work­ing on in sev­eral projects here at the Univer­sity of Borås.

Nair ex­plained that these re­search and pi­lots project where waste is used are called the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion ethanol pro­cesses, whereas the cur­rent in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion is called the first gen­er­a­tion ethanol process. Ramku­mar has now ver­i­fied a process that in­te­grates the first and the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion ethanol pro­cesses.

“This means that agri­cul­tural residues, such as straw, bran, or the like could be used for mak­ing ethanol with­out mak­ing any ma­jor in­vest­ments in the fac­to­ries. All we need is al­ready there. You can use the fac­to­ries ex­ist­ing re­ac­tors. This also elim­i­nates the bur­den of us­ing food­stuff to pro­duce ve­hi­cle fuel,” he said.

“What we added should not stop the fer­men­ta­tion,” said Nair. “Af­ter sev­eral tests, the choice was to add phos­phoric acid. It is good for the an­i­mals that eat the left­overs and it gives good re­sults in the ethanol fer­men­ta­tion process.”

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