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Butanol: the New Catchphrase in Biofuels?
25 Jan, 2008 07:30 am
Dr Lars Angenent at Washington University in St. Louis talks briefly about his research on making butyrate from plant biomass.
1. You are currently researching new techniques to produce butanol. How is butanol different from ethanol, making butanol a better biofuel than ethanol?
Butanol is easier to store in humidity, is less corrosive, has a higher octane rating and energy density, a lower vapor pressure, and mixes better with gasoline and diesel than ethanol.
2. Can you walk us through the method and stages of production of the cellulose/lignin mix from pre-treated corn fiber to butyrate to butanol?
We propose to mimic evolutionary biosystems, such as intestines with a nondefined mixed culture of bacteria, as an efficient bioprocess (first-stage bioprocess) to break down lignocellulosic feedstocks into butyrate. A second-stage bioprocess with a pure-culture Clostridium sp. will then convert butyrate into the liquid biofuel - butanol.
3. What is the implication for the future of the results of the research?
This work is now done in the laboratory-stage. If successful, we will scale up to a pilot level and publish our work in the public domain.