Energy News  





. Fuel From Food Waste: Bacteria Provide Power

With a more advanced pre-treatment, biohydrogen can even be produced from the waste from food-crop cultivation, such as corn stalks and husks.
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Jul 28, 2008
Researchers have combined the efforts of two kinds of bacteria to produce hydrogen in a bioreactor, with the product from one providing food for the other. According to an article in the August issue of Microbiology, this technology has an added bonus: leftover enzymes can be used to scavenge precious metals from spent automotive catalysts to help make fuel cells that convert hydrogen into energy.

Hydrogen has three times more potential energy by weight than petrol, making it the highest energy-content fuel available. Research into using bacteria to produce hydrogen has been revived thanks to the rising profile of energy issues.

We throw away a third of our food in the UK, wasting 7 million tonnes a year. The majority of this is currently sent to landfill where it produces gases like methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 more potent than carbon dioxide. Following some major advances in the technology used to make "biohydrogen", this waste can now be turned into valuable energy.

"There are special and yet prevalent circumstances under which micro-organisms have no better way of gaining energy than to release hydrogen into their environment," said Dr Mark Redwood from the University of Birmingham. "Microbes such as heterotrophs, cyanobacteria, microalgae and purple bacteria all produce biohydrogen in different ways."

When there is no oxygen, fermentative bacteria use carbohydrates like sugar to produce hydrogen and acids. Others, like purple bacteria, use light to produce energy (photosynthesis) and make hydrogen to help them break down molecules such as acids.

These two reactions fit together as the purple bacteria can use the acids produced by the fermentation bacteria. Professor Lynne Macaskie's Unit of Functional Bionanomaterials at the University of Birmingham has created two bioreactors that provide the ideal conditions for these two types of bacteria to produce hydrogen.

"By working together the two types of bacteria can produce much more hydrogen than either could alone," said Dr Mark Redwood.

"A significant challenge for the development of this process to a productive scale is to design a kind of photobioreactor that is cheap to construct and able to harvest light from a large area. A second issue is connecting the process with a reliable supply of sugary feedstock."

With a more advanced pre-treatment, biohydrogen can even be produced from the waste from food-crop cultivation, such as corn stalks and husks. Tens of millions of tonnes of this waste is produced every year in the UK. Diverting it from landfill into biohydrogen production addresses both climate change and energy security.

The University of Birmingham has teamed up with Modern Waste Ltd and EKB Technology Ltd to form Biowaste2energy Ltd, which will develop and commercialise this waste to energy technology.

"In a final twist, the hydrogenase enzymes in the leftover bacteria can be used to scavenge precious metals from spent automotive catalysts to help make fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electricity," said Professor Lynne Macaskie. "So nothing is wasted and an important new application can be found for today's waste mountain in tomorrow's non-fossil fuel transport and energy."

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Society for General Microbiology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Researchers Generate Hydrogen Without The Carbon Footprint
University Park PA (SPX) Jul 28, 2008
A greener, less expensive method to produce hydrogen for fuel may eventually be possible with the help of water, solar energy and nanotube diodes that use the entire spectrum of the sun's energy, according to Penn State researchers.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • China's largest oil and gas producer cuts jobs: state media
  • Workers struggle to clean up oil spill on Mississippi
  • Scientists work on garbage for gas
  • Researchers Generate Hydrogen Without The Carbon Footprint

  • Outside View: India nuke tango -- Part 1
  • Thorium Power Adds Nuclear Technology Experts
  • Australia looks positively at US-Indian nuclear deal
  • Malaysia looking at building its first nuclear plant: report

  • Air Monitoring Helps Anticipate Possible Ecosystem Changes
  • Air Travelers And Astronomers Could Benefit From Atmospheric Turbulence Research
  • NASA And Air Resources Board To Examine California Air Quality
  • Field Project Seeks Clues To Climate Change In Remote Atmospheric Region

  • WWF blasts EU's illegal wood imports, led by Finland
  • Scientists to discuss climate risk posed by wetlands destruction
  • Ancient Australian tree takes life-saving drive
  • Scattered Woodlands Complicate Forest's Response To Climate Change

  • Reclaimed Wastewater Benefits Florida's Citrus Orchards
  • UN chief calls for sharp hike in world farm output
  • Digital Cameras And Remote Satellites Measure Crop Water Demand
  • Pollination Habits Of Endangered Rice Revealed To Help Preservation

  • Fuel For Thought On Transport Sector Challenges
  • China unsold new car stock hits four-year high: report
  • SKorea's Ssangyong plans shutdown as SUV demand falls
  • China loses WTO car parts case against US

  • Russia And China May Co-Design New Passenger Plane
  • China Southern Airlines managers take paycut due to oil prices
  • Air China says it is to buy 45 Boeing aircraft
  • British PM blasts polluting 'ghost' flights

  • Nuclear Power In Space - Part 2
  • Outside View: Nuclear future in space
  • Nuclear Power In Space

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement