Key Ingredient in Ethanol Production Discovered

Aug. 25, 2016

Study finds that CO2 neutralizes toxicity, allowing for more streamlined processes in production.

Scientists have uncovered a new way to make ethanol using carbon dioxide.

Researchers have discovered that adding CO2 gas during the deconstruction phase of biofuel production neutralizes the toxicity of ionic liquids, making the procedure reversible and allowing the solvent to be recycled.

This discovery made by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories signals positive developments for the process of streamlining future biofuel productions. According to this study, using ethanol could lower production expenses by 50-65% compared to prior methods that used ionic liquid-based pretreatments.

“Pretreatment is the most expensive part of the biofuels production process,” says study co-author Seema Singh, Director of Biomass Pretreatment at Joint Bioenergy Institute (JBEI), a DOE bioenergy research center led by Berkeley Lab. “If you count the whole production cycle, pretreatment is second only to the cost of growing and obtaining the feedstock itself.”

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