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Researchers develop greener biofuels processing catalyst

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Researchers develop greener biofuels processing catalyst

Post  bejoy on Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:22 am

Fuels that are produced from nonpetroleum-based biological sources may become greener and more affordable, due to a research performed at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute that examines the use of a processing catalyst made from palladium metal and bacteria.

Biofuels are made from renewable materials such as plants or algae and offer an alternative to petroleum-based sources. However, many biofuels are costly to produce because the precursor product, bio-oil, must be processed before it is sent to the refinery to be turned into liquid fuel. Illinois Sustainability Technology Center researcher BK Sharma and his co-authors have identified and tested a new processing method.

“Bio-oil forms from the same chemical reaction that forms petroleum,” Sharma said. “But what takes millions of years naturally in the ground takes only minutes in the lab using a process that is very similar to pressure cooking.”

Published in the journal Fuel, their findings point to a cheaper, more environmentally friendly and renewable catalyst for processing that uses common bacteria and the metal palladium, which can be recovered from waste sources such as discarded electronics, catalytic converters, street sweeper dust and processed sewage.

The bio-oil produced in the lab from algae contains impurities like nitrogen and oxygen, but treating it with palladium as a catalyst during processing helps remove those impurities to meet clean-air requirements, Sharma said.

For the palladium to do its job, the bio-oil needs to flow past it during processing. Previous studies have shown that allowing the oil flow through porous carbon particles infused with palladium is an effective method, but those carbon particles are not cheap, Sharma said.
Read more: https://goo.gl/HvAapo

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