No, I Did It First! The Same Sugar-to-Gasoline Method Discovered by Two Research Teams


A student at the Univ. of Wisconsin with a reactor system used to convert sugars into a "targeted class of liquid fuels". Photo: Jim Dumesic/University of Wisconsin

There have been a couple of developments in the quest to create green gasoline in the past few weeks. The latest news on this front is that two independent teams of researchers are announcing that they have developed a way to convert sugar and other carbohydrates into gasoline, or any of the other products that can be derived from petroleum. The two groups are Virent Energy Systems , with a team led by Randy Cortright, and a team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison led by James Dumesic. This is how the process works:Aqueous Phase Reforming
From Science Daily:

The key to the breakthrough is a process developed by both Dumesic and Cortright called aqueous phase reforming. In passing a watery slurry of plant-derived sugar and carbohydrates over a series of catalysts-materials that speed up reactions without sacrificing themselves in the process-carbon-rich organic molecules split apart into component elements that recombine to form many of the chemicals that are extracted from non-renewable petroleum.

More Research Needed Before Commercial Production
Though several years may be needed before this process can be scaled to the commercial level, the promise of generating gasoline from plant sources is an attractive one for many people. The present automobile infrastructure and current methods of fuel delivery all could continue to be used without great modification. That's either a great thing or a horrendous thing, depending on how you view the general environmental sustainability of an automobile-dominated landscape on all levels but that of the fuel which powers it.

An additional potential hurdle is one of the same one plaguing first-generation biofuels. Depending on how the sugars used to produce green gasoline are sourced, the ugly spectre of food price inflation and food shortage could easily appear.

More at :: Science Daily
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Tags: Biofuels | Renewable Energy | United States

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