Purdue's Can-Do Biofuels Promise to Meet All U.S. Transport Needs
Churning up plant matter—such as agricultural and forest waste—into liquid fuel isn't a new concept, but chemical engineers from Purdue University are proposing an new environmentally friendly process that could provide all the fuel for "the entire U.S. transportation sector." (These are the same hallowed halls of academia that brought us the garbage-to-diesel generator. Man, are these guys FOCUSED.)
The difference in this new approach: The addition of hydrogen from a "carbon-free" energy source, such as solar or nuclear power, during a step called gasification.Adding hydrogen suppresses the creation of carbon dioxide, thus increasing the efficiency of the process. This makes it possible to produce three times the volume of biofuels from the same quantity of biomass, according to Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue's Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering.
The researchers have even come up with a snazzy name to describe their approach: the "hybrid hydrogen-carbon process." But you can just call it H2CAR for short, if that's too much of a mouthful.
"Further research is needed to make this a large-scale reality," Agrawal said. "We could use H2CAR to provide a sustainable fuel supply to meet the needs of the entire U.S. transportation sector—all cars, trucks, trains and airplanes." :: Purdue UniversityPhoto credit: George Kavanagh/Getty Images