From: Ghent University
Published March 31, 2017 04:21 PM

From grass to grassoline

Researchers at Ghent University have developed a process that turns grass into fuel.

Scientists at the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET), Ghent University have developed a way to turn grass into biofuel. Will we soon drive on ‘grassoline’?

"Until now, grass has mainly served as feed for animals. We can get more out of grass: due to its vast abundance, it is an attractive source to produce organics such as aviation fuel" , scientist Way Cern Khor tells us. During his PhD research at Ghent University, Belgium, he investigated methods that disintegrate and bioconvert grass until it can be used as a fuel.

How does it work?

Grass is first pretreated to increase biodegradability. Then enriched bacteria are utilized to convert the sugars in the grass into lactic acid and its derivatives. The lactic acid can already serve as an intermediate chemical to produce other compounds such as biodegradable plastics (PLA) or fuels. In this case, the lactic acid is converted into caproic acid which was further converted into products such as decane.

And that is where the process ends: decane can be used as fuel, for example for aviation. This is very important: while cars are turning electric, planes are not – and they will not do so in the coming two decades at least.

Continue reading at Ghent University

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