New biofuel production method could make process more affordableSeptember 15, 2012
Microbiologist discovers a way to streamline biofuel production
Biofuel is becoming more popular around the world, especially in countries eager to break their reliance on fossil-fuels. Biofuel production can be a costly endeavor, however, and the expensive nature of the process has kept the fuel out of the reach of many. Not only in the biofuel production process expensive, it also requires a significant amount of fossil-fuel-generated power to deliver results, making biofuel a less clean form of energy than it is intended to be. A microbiologist from the Missouri University of Science and Technology may have found a solution to this problem.
New method reduces the cost of biofuel production
Doctor Melanie Mormile, a professor of biological sciences, has found a way to use a particular bacterium, called Halanaerobium hydrogenifomana, for biofuel production. According to Dr. Mormile, the bacterium is capable of streamlining the biofuel production process. The bacterium thrives in a hazardous, high-alkaline, high-salt environment. Because of the conditions in which the bacterium lives, the need to neutralize the pH of biomass in the biofuel production process is eliminated. This step contributes to the cost and energy consumption of biofuel production. The method developed by Dr. Mormile also removed some of the other steps in biofuel production, making the process more straightforward and less expensive.
Biofuels are common in energy industry
Biofuel is a blanket term that refers to any fuel that is produced through a biological process. This process often involves the use of bacteria that consume organic compounds and produce gases as a byproduct of this consumption. These gases are typically refined to be used to produce clean energy. Hydrogen is one of the more popular forms of biofuel, as are methanol and ethanol.
Studies take place at Soap Lake, Washington
Dr. Mormile has secured a patent for the biofuel production process she has developed. Researchers are currently working on ways to refine the process and make it ready for widespread use. Mormile’s research in this endeavor has revolved around using the method to produce hydrogen fuel, with much of her study taking place at Soap Lake in Washington. Mormile hopes to continue researching biofuel production at Soap Lake in the near future.