Nanotechnology used in biofuel processing

Oct. 12, 2009 at 12:59 PM
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RUSTON, La., Oct. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they are using nanotechnology to improve the cellulosic ethanol processes involved in producing biofuels.

Louisiana Tech Professors James Palmer, Yuri Lvov, Dale Snow and Hisham Hegab say biofuels will play an important part in sustainable fuel and energy production solutions for the future. But the professors say the nation's appetite for fuel cannot be satisfied with just traditional crops, such as sugar cane or corn. But they note emerging technologies are allowing cellulosic biomass (wood, grass, stalks, etc.) to also be converted into ethanol.

The researchers said the nanotechnology processes they developed can immobilize the expensive enzymes used to convert cellulose to sugars, allowing them to be reused several times, significantly reducing the overall cost of the process.

Savings estimates range from approximately $32 million for each cellulosic ethanol plant to a total of $7.5 billion if a federally established goal of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol is achieved.

The technology is to be highlighted Nov. 5 during Louisiana Tech's Energy Systems Conference in Shreveport, La.

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