The bacteria convert sugar into jet fuel


10/11/2012

Long-abandoned fermentation process once used to convert starch into explosives can get a second birth. Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley found that it can be used to create renewable diesel fuel used by vehicles.

This process of bacterial fermentation was discovered about 100 years ago, the first president of Israel, chemist Chaim Weizmann. This process, although fresh form, allows the mixture of products having a greater energy density than ethanol, and can be introduced already in the next 5-10 years.

Biofuels can be an alternative to fossil fuels, which, in turn, is a result of geological processes on the crop over an extended period of time. In theory, one can artificially accelerate these processes. Currently, the most easy to manufacture ethanol, which can not compete with the energy density of hydrocarbons in the diesel or jet fuel. The new process, which involves bacteria and traditional catalysts, provides an opportunity to correct the situation, allowing you to convert sugar into hydrocarbons.

This process is based on a certain kind of bacteria called Clostridium acetobutylicum. When a source of sugar (which might be a plant cellulose), these bacteria produce a mixture of carbon such as acetone, ethanol and butanol.

Typically these metabolites are accumulated up until their concentration will not harm most bacteria, leading to stop the reaction. But a team of scientists from Berkeley, found that glyceryl tributirat solvent, do not dissolve in water, can dissolve the acetone and butanol, separating them from the water in which the bacteria live. The result is ethanol which can be used as biofuel.

Thereafter, the catalyst can produce a simple condensation reaction, in which the combined butanol and acetone, with the release of water molecules.

The end result is a molecule of 11 carbon atoms associated with the ketone, which on the fuel properties are not inferior to diesel. With the help of the existing refinery capacity from the resulting substance can produce diesel or jet fuel.

Original: Arstechnica.com


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