By Cameron Chai
While Bio-butanol can be generated by using spin-offs of the pulp and paper industry and food industry to substitute petrol, methane realized from biogas, as revealed in the life-cycle assessment is seen as a top prospective to substitute fossil fuel.
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Professor Ulla Lassi, a researcher from the University of Oulu, has tried the manufacture of butanol through a chemical synthesis process, which deploys a new catalyst material to change compounds such as ethanol, methanol or glycerol into alcohol, pentanol and butanol blends, which can be directly utilized as liquid fuels. He found that usage of glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel will be more cost- efficient. According to Lassi, the current discoveries in butanol fermentation methods have solved the experienced problems partly and he explained that new catalyst development and new chemical sysnthesis methods alone will enable the manufacture of new type of liquid fuels.
Another research, a joint Finnish-Chilean endeavor under the SusEn research program, tried the use of biogas as a transport fuel. The research tried methods to upgrade the landfill gas into fuel. According to the principal researcher of the project, Professor Jukka Rintala, in recent years a good amount of interest has been shown in the use of biogas sourced from energy crops and biodegradable waste. Such biogas is either utilized to run the vehicles or fed into the grid as natural gas for usage and the waste material known as digestate is used as a soil conditioner or fertilizer.
Rintala carried out the project at Jyväskylä located Mustankorkea Waste Treatment Facility, which focused on removing trace compounds of biogas. The method attempted to raise the methane content in biogas to facilitate its usage as biofuel. It utilized the water absorption method, which enabled the yield of methane content up to 80 to 90 % and the rest was found to be nitrogen and carbon dioxide. While nitrogen content reduced the energy subjects of biogas, its carbon dioxide brought down the energy value of biogas. The research suggests preventing the access of nitrogen in the landfill located gas collection system to lower its content in the collected methane.