Posted tagged ‘waste’


September 10, 2011

biofuel-from-whiskyTill date, all types of alcoholic drinks, or booze as they are commonly called, are produced only with the intention of drinking for socializing, fun, recreation and to drown one’s sorrows.
However the researchers of Abertay’s School of Contemporary Science have found a different and more beneficial use for alcoholic drinks.

The researchers here have been awarded the prestigious Carnegie Trust Research Grant to help them in the investigation of turning the residues that are found in the production of beer and whisky, into a form of renewable biofuel.

This is anticipated to be a project that takes about a year to find new methods of turning the spent grain of these drinks into an efficient biofuel, bioethanol.

Bioethanol is a much more environmentally friendly alternative to the present fossil fuels you find around you.
The reason it is considered better to using bioethanol, instead of traditional fuels for your fueling purposes is that it is CO2 neutral. It is also produces 65% less greenhouse gas emissions because it burns at temperatures that are at a much better level for fire safety.

With the supply of fuel being predicted to be finite, with half of the world’s oil supply already having been consumed in the passed 200 years, scientists are looking for simple and cost effective means of producing more biofuels from low value and waste products. there is a race going on for finding environmentally friendly alternatives to fuels for the future of the world, and this is why spent grains of alcohol and beer manufacture are considered to be a safe and efficient option for this.

Today Brazil and USA together produce over 70% of global supplies through the creation of bioethanol from sugarcane and maize starch respectively.
Though the US has beaten Brazil in its production, Brazil is still the largest exporter that sends about 3.2 billion liters of bioethanol in the last year alone.

Like all things in life, there are some negative aspects to this method of generating fuels. Both these countries tend to create an increased demand for land to grow the energy crops they require for generating bioethanol. In fact, in countries like Brazil, the safety of tropical forests too is threatened where even the benefits of using biofuel too may be cancelled out.

This is why researchers are considering using the waste products received from the manufacture of alcohol for creating biofuels. This may be a more complicated process of turning waste products into bioethanol. However it is a perfect example of a second generation biofuel.

The products used for the creation of this biofuel is usually disposed of or at the most, used for processing animal feed.

Instead of this, using them to produce fuel would be an attractive means of using this resource. However presently, there are many technical challenges and hindrances that have to be overcome to help in converting waste biomass into fuel.

And the search is still on for a more efficient and cost effective process for producing biofuels from alcoholic wastes.


August 23, 2011

An electrochemical reaction occurs between hydrogen and oxygen that converts chemical energy into electrical energy.

01-how fuel cell works-proton exchange membrane-hydrogen fuel cell

Think of them as big batteries, but ones that only operate when fuel—in this case, pure hydrogen—is supplied to them. When it is, an electrochemical reaction takes place between the hydrogen and oxygen that directly converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Various types of fuel cells exist, but the one automakers are primarily focusing on for fuel cell cars is one that relies on a proton-exchange membrane, or PEM. In the generic PEM fuel cell pictured here, the membrane lies sandwiched between a positively charged electrode (the cathode) and a negatively charged electrode (the anode). In the simple reaction that occurs here rests the hope of engineers, policymakers, and ordinary citizens that someday we’ll drive entirely pollution-free cars.

Here’s what happens in the fuel cell: When hydrogen gas pumped from the fuel tanks arrives at the anode, which is made of platinum, the platinum catalyzes a reaction that ionizes the gas. Ionization breaks the hydrogen atom down into its positive ions (hydrogen protons) and negative ions (electrons). Both types of ions are naturally drawn to the cathode situated on the other side of the membrane, but only the protons can pass through the membrane (hence the name “proton-exchange”). The electrons are forced to go around the PEM, and along the way they are shunted through a circuit, generating the electricity that runs the car’s systems.

Using the two different routes, the hydrogen protons and the electrons quickly reach the cathode. While hydrogen is fed to the anode, oxygen is fed to the cathode, where a catalyst creates oxygen ions. The arriving hydrogen protons and electrons bond with these oxygen ions, creating the two “waste products” of the reaction—water vapor and heat. Some of the water vapor gets recycled for use in humidification, and the rest drips out of the tailpipe as “exhaust.” This cycle proceeds continuously as long as the car is powered up and in motion; when it’s idling, output from the fuel cell is shut off to conserve fuel, and the ultra capacitor takes over to power air conditioning and other components.

A single hydrogen fuel cell delivers a low voltage, so manufacturers “stack” fuel cells together in a series, as in a dry-cell battery. The more layers, the higher the voltage. Electrical current, meanwhile, has to do with surface area. The greater the surface area of the electrodes, the greater the current. One of the great challenges automakers face is how to increase electrical output (voltage times current) to the point where consumers get the power and distance they’re accustomed to while also economizing space in the tight confines of an automobile.