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Breakthrough in the production of biofuels

Date 18 Sep 2006
Author The Editor

Research has just revealed that specially engineered bacteria could be used to make fuel entirely from food crops.

The research, published in the Society for General Microbiology’s most recent journal, proves that Microdiesel (as the scientists have named it) encourages more cost effective and environmentally friendly production methods than those currently existing for biodiesel.

A growing number of countries are already making biodiesel on a large scale, but the present production process depends on plant oils obtained from seeds of oilseed crops like rapeseed or soy, and this means a huge demand of acreage. It also relies on the addition of toxic methanol from fossil resources, whereas the bacteria developed for use in this Microdiesel process make their own ethanol. This will help to keep the costs of production down and means that the fuel is made from 100% renewable resources.

“Biodiesel is an alternative energy source and a substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel,” explains Professor Steinbüchel of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. He also stated: “Due to the much lower price of the raw materials used in this new Microdiesel process, more widespread production of biofuel at a competitive price, will be possible in the future”.

UK ministers are considering doubling the targets for the amount of biofuels sold in Britain by 2015.

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