• 4 minutes Phase One trade deal, for China it is all about technology war
  • 7 minutes IRAN / USA
  • 11 minutes Shale Oil Fiasco
  • 16 minutes Swedes Think Climate Policy Worst Waste of Taxpayers' Money in 2019
  • 3 hours China's Economy and Subsequent Energy Demand To Decelerate Sharply Through 2024
  • 10 hours What's the Endgame Here?
  • 2 hours US Shale: Technology
  • 4 hours Indonesia Stands Up to China. Will Japan Help?
  • 1 hour Gravity is a scam!
  • 24 hours 10 Rockets hit US Air Base in Iraq
  • 19 hours Canada / Iran
  • 1 day Wind Turbine Blades Not Recyclable
  • 20 hours Remember: Only the Poor Can Reach the Kingdom of God
  • 1 day IRAQ / USA
  • 1 day Tales From The Smoke Shack and beyond.
  • 1 day History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin
Alt Text

The Uncomfortable Truth About Biofuel

Though biofuel mandates have spread…

Green Futures

Green Futures

This article originally appeared in Green Futures magazine. Green Futures is the leading international magazine on environmental solutions and sustainable futures, published by Forum for…

More Info

Premium Content

Using Yeast to Create Biofuel

Scientists are using yeast to synthesise a biofuel without taking up swathes of land.

Microorganisms engineered to produce a new type of biofuel, bisabolane, have the potential to produce transport fuels without putting large swathes of land under energy crops.

Common liquid biofuels such as bioethanol compete with food production and are energy intensive to produce. But scientists at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, a US Department of Energy research centre, believe the new technique could provide an environmentally benign solution which could be used in existing diesel engines as part of a fuel mix, in the same way that bioethanol is commonly mixed with petrol.

Bisabolane is a terpene, a class of chemicals traditionally used as fragrances and flavours. Plants are the natural source of terpenes, but Dr Teak Soon Lee and his team are using yeast as an efficient way to produce bisabolene, a closely related compound to bisabolane.

The bisabolene must then be chemically converted to bisabolane so it can be used in a normal diesel engine, and this is currently a sticking point. The ultimate goal is the complete microbial production of the fuel, reducing the environmental impact of the production process and driving down the costs.

Microbes such as yeast need a food source, and currently sugarcane and corn are used – which means there are still the same issues of land use as with conventional biofuels. But Dr Lee anticipates that eventually cellulosic biomass – which can be sourced from crop and forest residues – could serve as the feedstock instead.

While the technology is some way from commercial viability, it holds out the long-term prospect of harvesting surplus biomass to produce a cost-efficient, relatively environmentally benign fuel.

By. Rebecca Nesbit




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage




Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News