Investigadores daneses descubren un método para convertir residuos vegetales en combustible (en inglés)_04.09.2015
Fuel made from plant waste and which can be poured directly into a standard petrol car. This may become a reality after researchers from Roskilde University have developed a new and effective enzyme in collaboration with Novozymes.
When you pull into a petrol station in the future, it might not be petrol that comes out of the pump. New promising research brings hope that it will instead be fuel made from plant waste that you will use to fill your tank. Scientists have namely developed an enzyme that can efficiently break down plant waste so that it can subsequently be made into fuel.
“We have developed a new, artificial enzyme that under certain conditions is more than twice as effective as the corresponding enzymes that we find in nature” says Johan Pelck Olsen.
He is a PhD fellow at Roskilde University and one of the two leading authors of the study, which is published in the renowned publication, Journal of Biological Chemistry. Along with the rest of the group at Roskilde University, and in collaboration with Novozymes, they have developed the new enzyme, which has now been patented in most of the world.
The grass is greener
Even today, alcohol is produced from plants and then mixed into our fuel to lower CO2 emissions. The problem is that this type of plant alcohol, called bioethanol, is made from foods such as corn and sugar cane. It has therefore been accused of increasing global food prices, which has in turn led to it being given the nickname “food petrol”.
The new, so-called second-generation bioethanol, is based on plant parts that cannot be eaten, such as corn cobs or straw. This means that it is not only sustainable and CO2-neutral, it can also be produced without taking food out of the mouths of the world’s poor.
Johan Pelck Olsen is in no doubt that the new results are crucial: “Although we have known about this technology for many years, it has never really left the laboratory. One reason is that the enzymes have been too costly and inefficient. If our results are repeated outside the laboratory, they may help to change this.” The scientific article in question is available for free on JBC’s website.