Clean, Green, POWER!

A review of the technologies from the frontiers of innovation that will change our world. For better or for worse depends on how we implement it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Biofuel from Sugarcane

An entrepreneur from Malaysia has plans to introduce biofuel from sugarcanes into the local market. Azlan Abdullah says his technique could produce 7,000 litres of biofuel per hectare from local sugarcane fields, compared to 5,800 liters for palm oil.

Sugar cane fuel, a sweet alternative to petrol

It has been successful in Brazil and the Philippines.

Now local entrepreneur Azlan Abdullah wants to introduce it in Malaysia — biofuel made from sugar cane juice.

Together with a partner, a local scientist, they have produced high octane biofuel from cane sugar that is environment-friendly, cheaper than petrol and more importantly, a renewable source of fuel.

[...]

Azlan said his company could produce about 7,000 litres of biofuel from his one-hectare sugar cane field here.

The article doesn't say if it's biodiesel, ethanol or a petrol substitute. However, I will keep my eyes peeled for developments in this technology. If it is a petrol substitute that can run on present engines, well then I say this is a great development for Malaysia. Perhaps we can even sell the idea to Brazil who are currently the world's largest producer and consumer of sugarcane ethanol for internal combustion vehicles.

Related Internet Links:
Wikipedia - Ethanol fuel in Brazil
BBC News - The rise, fall and rise of Brazil's biofuel

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bacterial Fuel Cells

Researchers at the Arizona State University are conducting an experiment on bacterial fuel cells. The bacteria consume organic wastes like sewage, manure and crop wastes as food and release electrons in the process, thereby creating an electric potential.

SILICON DESERT: Experiment turns waste into power

(Tribune, The (Mesa, AZ) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Mar. 27--Microorganisms 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair could help power America's energy future, a professor at Arizona State University says.

Bruce Rittmann, director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the ASU Biodesign Institute, is experimenting with microbial fuel cells -- devices that use bacteria to produce electricity.

Weird though it may sound, some bacteria that feed on organic waste such as sewage, feedlot manure, algae or crop waste, release electrons in the process, creating an electric current, he said.
The article continues to say that US Department of Energy estimates a savings of 2 million barrels of oil a year if domestic wastes were converted to energy and 6 million barrels a year if feedlot manure is used. That may not be much considering the US consumes 20 million barrels a day.

However if this method is applied in a decentralized fashion to power farms where the manure is produced or to provide sewage treatment plants with their own power, then the benefit is clear. Nonetheless, this is very interesting news. It kind of reminds me of those organic power packs in Final Fantasy the movie.

The potential for use in spacecraft life support systems are also intriguing. Imagine converting human organic wastes to generate electricity. Couple that with algae scrubbing systems and the possibility of long haul space flights are not so far-fetched.

No wonder NASA is interested in the project.

Related Internet Links:
Science@NASA - Waste Not
Space.com - Harnessing the power of poop
News.com - Bacteria could power tiny robots