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09/06/2012

Recycling Biofuel for Electricity

 
Recycling biofuel could create a cheap, efficient source of energy.

A lab-scale microbial fuel cell, used to study the generation of electricity from waste products. Credit: Lisa Buddrus

A by-product of biofuel manufacture can power microbial fuel cells to generate electricity cheaply and efficiently, according to scientists presenting their work at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn Conference. The work could help develop self-powered devices that would depollute waste water and create a model for other applications.

Distillers Dried Grain with Solubles (DDGS) is a waste product from bioethanol production that is commonly used as a low-cost animal feed. Researchers from the University of Surrey incorporated DDGS together with bacteria-inoculated sludge from a waste water treatment plant in their microbial fuel cell.

The design of the fuel cell meant that the bacteria, which used the DDGS for growth, were physically separated from their oxygen supply. This meant that the bacteria were forced into sending electrons around a circuit leading to a supply of oxygen. By tapping into this electron flow, electricity could be generated from the waste.

Microbial fuel cells offer the ability to convert a wide range of complex organic waste products into electrical energy, making it an attractive target technology for renewable energy. Finding cost-efficient starting products is necessary to help commercialize the process, explained Lisa Buddrus who is carrying out the research. "DDGS is potentially one of the most abundant waste products in the UK. As the biofuel industry expands the supply of DDGS will become more abundant," she says.

As well as being low-cost, microbial fuel cells that use DDGS are very environmentally friendly. The waste that is left following electricity extraction is of greater value, as it is less reactive with oxygen, making it less polluting. "We've found something really useful from a waste product without affecting its value as animal feed and at the same time improving its environmental status. This is something we place great importance on and within our group we have a team solely dedicated to reducing polluting potential," says Professor Mike Bushell, leader of the group.

A lot of microbial fuel cell research focuses on developing environmental sensors in remote locations. "Self-powered sensors in remote places such as deserts or oceans can be used to provide important data for monitoring weather or pollution. Other applications in focus for microbial fuel cells include treating waste water to produce green electricity and clean up the water at the same time," explains Bushell.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


 
09/22/2014

Fort Carson in Colorado is well on its way to reaching the goal of net-zero energy by 2020. 

09/19/2014

New regulations from the DOE would improve commercial air conditioner efficiency by as much as 30%. 

09/18/2014

A new study suggests that the installed cost of photovoltaic solar power continues to drop in the U.S.

09/17/2014

A new technology developed at Rice University effectively deices glass surfaces while remaining transparent for radio frequency transmission.

09/16/2014

The USGBC and American Chemistry Council have put aside their differences to work together on new improvements to the LEED certification system. 

09/15/2014

Researchers have developed a new process to help cloud computing systems use less energy while continuing to provide high levels of data services.

09/12/2014

Researchers have found the main factors that influence the amount and type of building damage caused by various types of salts. 

09/11/2014

A new study has demonstrated that proactive ergonomic training can decrease worker discomfort and increase productivity. 

09/10/2014

The University of Utah has upgraded its historic Dumke Health Professions Education building to save an impressive 40% on energy costs.

09/09/2014

Hoping to build on LEED's success, PEER evaulates the performance and modernization of electric grids. 

09/08/2014

The USGBC has developed a new tool to help streamline the LEED certification process. 

09/05/2014

Researchers have developed a fluorescent lamp that emits Wi-Fi signals to allow connectivity throughout buildings.

09/04/2014

Tests show effective measures for reducing earthquake damage to computer servers. 

09/03/2014

Health costs drop by half as a result of environmental regulations.

09/02/2014

A new study challenges the idea that sparse workplaces produce happier, more productive employees.

08/29/2014

New tool from FEMA helps facility managers prepare for and mitigate the effects of nonstructural earthquake damage. 

08/28/2014

Is your building's exterior prepared for consistent snowstorms?

08/27/2014

Researchers have developed wearable, customizable technology to handle access control at busy hotels. 

08/26/2014

A new study shows that hotels which are LEED certified bring in more revenue than their non-certified competitors. 

08/25/2014

Policies designed to reduce carbon emissions have the added benefit of increasing air quality, which could pay for the reduction policies themselves. 

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