none

RESEARCHERS DISCOVER HOW TO MAKE JET DIESEL FROM SUGARCANE

25-06-2015
by 
in 

With eight million people flying across the globe each day – and rising – the environmental cost of air travel is substantial.
In 2012, it was estimated that 2 percent of all carbon emissions were due to aeroplane operations, and that figure is expected to increase in the near future.
So it’s no surprise that scientists across the world are working on alternative fuels to make air travel a greener form of transport.
A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley in the US has come across a novel alternative fuel: sugarcane biomass and waste.
The academics say that producing jet diesel from this natural source would substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What's more, because the sugarcane can be grown on marginal, low-yield land, it wouldn't have to replace existing food crops.
"We've identified a new route of chemistry with its source from sugars in sugarcane plus some of the so-called waste material called bagasse," co-author Alexis Bell told Mark Kinver from the BBC.
"We show in this paper how we can put these components together to make jet diesel and lubricants," he said.
The process works by using a hot water treatment to remove sugar from the sugarcane, before renewable catalysts (tiny amounts of magnesium oxide and niobium pentoxide) are used to transform the waste into fuel.
Up to this point scientists have struggled to find a viable biofuel to meet the demands of today's high-powered aircraft - there are strict regulations in place in terms of weight, density, lubricity and performance in low temperatures that airlines insist on to keep efficiency at the required levels.
But Bell says his new sugarcane fuel meets all of the necessary criteria.
The first commercial flight partly powered by biofuel was in February 2008, but interest in greener fuel has waned over concerns that the production of the necessary crops would increase strain on worldwide food production. The sugarcane fuel developed by Bell and his colleagues avoids that problem.
"If, for example, we were to use sugar beet instead of sugarcane then there would be a potential conflict over fuel versus food," he says. "By using sugarcane, particularly in Brazil, on land that is not used for agriculture, we escape that conundrum."
Bell added that any clearing of ground for sugarcane production would have to be environmentally sound to make the potential benefits worthwhile.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been sponsored by BP and the scientists are now seeking a patent for the innovations they've made.
The process may well be used to create lubricants first of all, before becoming part of cleaner jet fuel mixtures.

Source: Science Alert
 

Related news & editorials

  1. 24.09.2020
    24.09.2020
    by      In
    A new research released by the University of South Australia says the boy’s club syndrome may be stereotypical, but it’s a saying that still holds water when it comes to Australian boards.
     Researchers were assessing the influence of gender diversity on Australian boards, and found that a... Read More
  2. 24.09.2020
    24.09.2020
    by      In
    One of Australia’s largest employers in the manufacturing sector, REDARC has taken robotics to new heights with its partnership with Universal Robots.
     In a local success story, Universal Robots has deployed its cobots to automate key manual and repetitive tasks so that employees are redeployed to... Read More
  3. 24.09.2020
    24.09.2020
    by      In
    Climate Change strategies is getting a big tick with CO2 Refrigeration integrated with Phase Change Energy Storage, winning SA’s Engineering Excellence Award.
    The Innovation led by engineers in South Australia also reaped the Sir William Hudson Award finalist.
    Using innovative technologies, the... Read More
  4. 24.09.2020
    24.09.2020
    by      In
    As debate picks up on the use of gas for energy source, Chemistry Australia has joined the fray saying, “The use of natural gas by the manufacturing sector adds significant value to the Australian economy.”
     So significant that according to the Chemical Sector Economic Contribution Analysis report... Read More