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Published on May 17th, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill

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Hydrogen — Tomorrow’s Biofuel?

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May 17th, 2012 by
 
 
Questions swirl around the idea of bioethanol as an alternative to gasoline for powering transport, but researchers from the University of Birmingham have started creating clean hydrogen from food waste, an idea that could revolutionise the bioenergy industry.

A look at Brazil — the world’s most intensive user of bioethanol — finds that mass-producing bioethanol from sugarcane is not as sustainable in the long-term as would be hoped. Bioethanol generates carbon dioxide as well as agricultural waste.

However, creating clean hydrogen from food waste not only uses up that waste, but provides a fuel that is emissions free and can be generated sustainably.

“Fuel cells need clean energy to run them. If you provide bacteria with a supply of sugary waste from, for example, chocolate production, the bacteria can produce hydrogen,” said Professor Lynne Macaskie, Professor of Applied Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, who presented the research at a collaborative bioenergy workshop in São Paulo on Monday. “At the moment manufacturers pay to dispose of waste but with our technique they could convert it to clean electricity instead.”

“Bioethanol is the current biofuel of choice in Brazil but our research shows the huge potential for biohydrogen to be the fuel for the future. Biohydrogen could even be made from the wastes from bioethanol production — two biofuels for the price of one. More work from focused teams, however, is needed, as agricultural wastes are tougher for bacteria to digest.”

Source: University of Birmingham
Image Source: Sweeter Alternative

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • Charlie Peters

    GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796

    Bill Clinton, Al Gore & Senator Obama supported the California 2006 Prop. 87, a GMO corn ethanol welfare program.

    Bill, Al, have changed opinion on the ethanol mandate, I wonder if Obama will make this the time for CHANGE?

    I support a waiver of the ethanol mandate, voluntary use of ethanol in my gas.

    Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit.

    It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result that may be ready for change.

    We do NOT support AB 523 or SB 1396 unless the ethanol mandate is changed to voluntary ethanol in our gas.

    Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time.

    The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree.

    AB 523 & SB 1326 are just a short put (waiver) from better results.

    GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796

  • http://work-bench.org/ Christopher Miles

    This is a great article Joshua, thanks.

    Previously when thinking of Brazils alt-fuel program I only thought of sugar cane ethanol.

    I’d just written a few posts on my own blog about promising Hydrogen Fuel Cell technologies- but one of the challenges I noticed that still remains is creating hydrogen inexpensively and sustainably.

    Fuel Cell implementation-

    http://work-bench.org/?p=1520

  • Ross

    Doesn’t the carbon in the bioethanol come from non-fossil fuel sources so it shouldn’t add to CO2 ppm. Unless you’re referring to a change of land use which reduces the amount of carbon locked up in plant matter.

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