“The research provides important information on how to avoid ‘wasting’ solar-driven energy in biomass production and how to apply this energy directly for the production of useful bio-products.”
The search for a viable plant-based biofuel that could power the next generation of vehicles could have gathered some speed after a group of researchers from a Finland university announced it had developed an efficient method of producing biofuel derived from algae. The University of Turku in the country’s south east discovered, via the study of photosynthesis of the organism, a sustainable technique of harnessing solar power into the chemical energy of bio-hydrogen – allowing the transformed algae to work as a microbial cell factory.
According to the university that unearthed the new procedure, during photosynthesis the green algae uses harvested solar energy to split water, release oxygen into the atmosphere and produce biomass which in turn creates a feed-stock. With the potential to improve it further, the university’s researchers said that by exposing the anaerobic algal cultures to strong yet short light pulses they could extend the production of hydrogen significantly.
Yagut Allahverdiyeva-Rinne, an associate professor at the University of Turku, said the study opened up new possibilities for the construction of efficient living cell factories for the production of biofuels. “The research provides important information on how to avoid ‘wasting’ solar-driven energy in biomass production and how to apply this energy directly for the production of useful bio-products.”
Meanwhile, petrochemical giant ExxonMobil has teamed up with Synthetic Genomics to also use the power of algae to produce biofuels, altering the organism’s structure to produce a renewable, low-emission energy source that the companies said would give it the ability to produce 10,000 barrels of algae-derived fuel a day by 2025.
In other biofuel news, Fulcrum BioEnergy said this week that it had entered the next stage of development in construction of its facility that will eventually produce transport-specific biofuel derived from lowly landfill rubbish. When it enters production, the Sierra BioFuels Plant will reportedly become the US’s first commercial-scale plant that generates biofuel purely from waste that would otherwise end up at municipal waste dumps. Bio-Based World News covered Fulcrum’s announcement last year of its intention to build the plant with a 10 million gallon biofuel output, a production facility that according to the company would produce 80% less greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil-based alternatives.
Announcing the final construction phase of Sierra as “another milestone” for Fulcrum, the company’s president, Jim Macias, said the work was ten years in the making. “By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry's commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
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