Researchers unveil process to extract transportation fuel from plants

Researchers have discovered a new way to make a diesel-like liquid fuel from carbohydrates commonly found in plants, reports CHUKWUMA MUANYA

DIESEL-LIKE liquid from carbohydrates found in plants has been achieved in the past by fermenting glucose into ethanol added to gasoline, but this process was reportedly inefficient and expensive because the ethanol needed to be separated from water at the end of the fermentation process.

Now, a team of chemists at University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States has found a new way to create green diesel from plants, which avoids this costly separating phase.

It has been shown that fuel from carbohydrates could be clean and easy, and plant-derived fuel can use existing infrastructures for distribution, which is not the case for hydrogen.

However, scientists say it is not yet uhuru. They warn that even if this new way to produce green diesel is promising, there are still some challenges to overcome before it becomes commercially available.

Professor James Dumesic and colleagues have built a four-phase catalytic reactor in which corn and other biomass-derived carbohydrates can be converted to sulfur-free liquid alkanes resulting in an ideal additive for diesel transportation fuel.

According to the researchers, this process is very energy-efficient compared with the production of ethanol.

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