Environmentally sustainable fuels from waste materials from food production

Wednesday 30 Apr 14

Petroleum-based fuels and chemicals contribute to the production of greenhouse gases and are a limited resource. In a PhD project at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, methods for developing environmentally sustainable alternative fuels based on waste materials from food production have been studied.

Environmentally sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels have been studied in a PhD project at the National Food Institute. PhD student Johan Alftrén has examined a method which may reduce costs of developing more environmentally sustainable alternatives to the petroleum-based fuels and chemicals, which contribute to the production of greenhouse gases and are a limited resource. Particularly gas and petroleum companies as well as biorefineries which want a greener profile may have an interest in the thesis findings.

Lignocellulose biomass, which accounts for 75-98 per cent of all the planet’s green plants, is a very abundant biological raw material. Because of its abundance it is a quite interesting material for producing biochemicals and biofuels. In addition, it is a waste material from e.g. maize and wheat production and, thus, does not directly compete with food production.

Enzyme recycling

One of the most significant challenges of making the bioprocess economically viable is the cost of those enzymes, cellulases, which can decompose cellulose. 

The thesis findings show that enzymes which are immobilised with the help of cheap magnetic particles can be produced and re-used at pilot scale. The advantage of immobilising enzymes on magnetic particles is that they can be separated and re-used with the help of a magnetic field. This finding shows that there is a potential in being able to use enzymes to develop processes for use in the production of bioethanol from lignocellulose.

The National Food Institute continues its research in this field.

Read more

Read Johan Alftrén’s PhD thesis: Immobilization of cellulases on magnetic particles to enable enzyme recycling during hydrolysis of lignocellulose (pdf).

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