Plant waste, consisting of wood-like biomass, such as branches, plant stalks, and pruning waste, is converted at high temperature into synthesis gas. Next, a one-step process flows the gas over the catalyst and produces lower olefins, which are building blocks that can be used to make plastics and other substances such as biopaints and biopharmaceuticals. "The products are exactly the same, only they are made of pruning waste instead of petroleum," said research team leader Utrecht University professor Krijn de Jong in a press release. Because they are chemically identical with petroleum-based products, the building blocks will not be biodegradable.
A new catalyst consisting of iron nanospheres (dark areas) converts gas generated from plant waste into biofuel and bioplastic building blocks in a single step. (Source: Hirsa M. Torres Galvis, Utrecht University.)
Other technologies for fabricating products of the same quality primarily from plant waste have existed for some time. But the process involved so many steps that these technologies were not efficient or economical enough to be used on a large scale, said de Jong. Utrecht University team members also include professor Harry Bitter and doctoral candidate Hirsa M. Torres Galvis in the university's inorganic chemistry and catalysis department.
Another catalyst used larger iron particles, typically 500 nanometers in diameter, which were clustered together. This process was not very efficient and produced large amounts of methane as a byproduct. The research team's success came in part from reducing the size of the iron nanoparticles to 20 nanometers in diameter and spacing them evenly.
@Dave Palmer: I raised the Clear Air Act because we remain under its enforcement. I don't expect the increased use of oil and gas to cause energy producers to ignore it and begin to pollute. On the contrary, I think it would be better for folks who do observe the goals of the Clean Air Act to obtain and use resources responsibly, rather than leaving it to nations and others who do not.
In my world, Profit is a fantastic thing. It is the life's blood of innovation. Without Profit, there is only break-even status quo or decline. More Profit means increased Capital available for increased investment in more innovation. Profit is a measure of added value, not a measure of nefarious action.
And I agree wholeheartedly. It would be a much more efficient world if we all could point to a concept in Star Trek and rapidly advance the conversation... =]
This is old style FT with a new catalyst. I follow this closely as I want to make fuel from waste biomass that here in Fla you have to beat back continously or get over run.
As they said most any HC like celulose, coal etc can be reduced to H2 and CO then normal processes can be used to make whatever HC you want. Problems are catalysts that don't last, CO2 produced which is lost energy and heat losses. Both these losses can be used to make electricity to up system eff.
Biomass has a great advantage as it's far cleaner than coal which impurities posion the catalysts and cost a lot to remove before the syngas can be used in FT that biomass doesn't need, making biomass more eff.
Problem with most FT is the number of times you put the gas through before it converts. On biomass you need higher temps to keep junk alocohols, etc from forming instead of fuel, chemicals wanted.
All really needed for most anyone to do this is getting hold of good catalysts and their specs. I'd settle for the GTL cats Shell, others are using to make diesel from NG by way of syngas.
Too many cry we have an energy shortage when in fact there are huge ones all around. The only reason we are having problems is we only use oil, coal and now NG. If the full cost of oil, coal wa actually in them instead of in our taxes, healthcare costs, etc, their prices would double.
I don't like subsidies especially to big oil, coal which is the only reason we are not doing far more RE and even a more important resource, the energy not used by eff, insulation, great design, smart standards and realizing that one doesn't really need a 4000 lb car to move a 200lb person around or 2000sq' homes for 2 people, etc. Now a 2000sq' workshop I could see ;^P
No matter what there are now 4 B more people wanting oil, coal copper, iron, alum, plastics, etc and their share of the pie. The only way it will happen is if we get smart before it hits the fan which is already started with the Iraq war, the first of many until we get off oil. Iran seems next. Or fight over a dwindling supply. Far cheaper, better economy just switching and a lot less people die.
Plus once off of oil recessions will be a lot less often as 5 of the last 6 were oil recessions from oil proce shocks. Ever though about how much that costs? Oil companies get the gold mine and we get stuck with the costs.
It looks like plastics are fairly easy to turn back into diesel, gasoline. Most any biofat/oil , new or used can be made into biodiesel, Methane/NG easy by many methods means as prices rise on fossil fuels these will come out of the woodwork.
Wind, PV can now be had at competitive prices of $2-3/wt as could a home size CSP supplying both electric and heating/ hot water which is just an AC in reverse with a solar collector and about the same size, cost.
@williamlweaver: There's nothing wrong with someone making a profit, but there's nothing particularly noble about it, either. Markets are essentially amoral. Staying with the Star Trek theme, Exhibit A is Harry Mudd, Exhibit B is Cyrano Jones.
I agree about our treatment of soldiers and I agreee about politicians. Without politics, we could probably cut away half of our bases without losing any effectiveness. But base locations have become a form of pork.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.