Tag Archive | "biofuels"

Agricultural engineer says tobacco could be used to produce biofuels

Good news this week for tobacco growers, especially in emerging nations, worried that the health risks from smoking might one day affect their business following the revelation that their plants could help power the next generation of motor cars.

Research from the Public University of Navarre in Spain has reportedly shown that genetically modified tobacco plants are viable as raw material for producing biofuels.

Ruth Sanz-Barrio, an agricultural engineer at the university and a researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology, revealed this month that specific tobacco proteins – known as thioredoxins – as biotechnological tools in plants, which can be used to produce biofuels.

Specifically, she has managed to increase the amount of starch produced in the tobacco leaves by 700% and fermentable sugars by 500%.

“We believe these genetically modified plants could be a good alternative for producing biofuels,”Sanz-Barrio told European journalists .

“With these sugars, according to the theoretical calculation provided by the National Centre for Renewable Energies, one could obtain up to 40 litres of bioethanol per tonnes of fresh leaves.”

China is the world’s largest tobacco grower producing four times more than the second biggest India with Brazil and the USA in third and fourth place.

Thirteen countries in Europe grow tobacco including Spain, home to the university, the largest producer Italy and neighboring France, which has produced its unique dark tobacco cigarettes for more than a century. Tobacco production in the EU has fallen dramatically in the past two decades as farming subsidies were withdrawn and fewer people took up smoking and now accounts for just 4% of world production.


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Algae-based fuels reduce CO2

Algae-derived biofuels can reduce the life cycle of carbon dioxide emissions by at least 50 percent compared to petroleum fuels, a US university study found

The peer-review study — the first to analyse real-world data from an existing algae-to-energy demonstration scale farm — indicates the environmental and energy benefits of algae biofuel are at least on equal footing with, and likely better than, first-generation biofuels, Algal Biomass Organization of Preston, Minn., said Thursday in a release.

“This study affirms that algae-based fuels provide results without compromise,” Executive Director Mary Rosenthal said. “With significant emissions reductions, a positive energy balance, nutrient recycling and CO2 reuse, algae-based fuels will be a long-term, sustainable source of fuels for our nation.”

The study, authored by Andres Clarens, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Virginia, is a life-cycle analysis of an algae cultivation and fuel production process used at pre-commercial scales, the non-profit organization said. The authors examined field data from two New Mexico facilities operated by Sapphire Energy that grow and process algae into Green Crude oil, which can be refined into drop-in fuels, such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The system evaluated can recycle nutrients and accept an algae feed that is as much as 90 percent water in the processing phase. The final product can be blended with refinery intermediates for refining into a finished gasoline or diesel product.

The study concluded that algae technologies at commercial scale are projected to produce biofuels with lower greenhouse gas emissions and energy-return-on-investment values comparable to first-generation biofuels. Additionally, the research indicated algae-based biofuels produced through the evaluated system on a commercial scale would have an energy return on investment that would approach the E-ROI of petroleum and would be three times higher than that of cellulosic ethanol.

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Current Issue October 2013