Nanotechnology makes biofuel development a cost-effective and 'green' process

     Researchers at Louisiana Tech University in the US have come out with nanotechnology processes that can make the development of biofuels cost-effective and also easy on the environment. Biofuels will play an important part in sustainable fuel and energy production solutions for the future. A country's appetite for fuel, however, cannot be satisfied with traditional crops such as sugar cane or corn alone. Emerging technologies are allowing cellulosic biomass (wood, grass, stalks) to also be converted into ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol does not compete with food production and has the potential to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 86 percent over that of today's fossil fuels. Current techniques for corn ethanol only reduce greenhouse gases by 19 percent. The nanotechnology processes developed at Louisiana Tech University can immobilize the expensive enzymes used to convert cellulose to sugars, allowing them to be reused several times over and, thus significantly reducing the overall cost of the process. Savings estimates range from approximately 32 million dollars for each cellulosic ethanol plant to a total of 7.5 billion dollars if a federally-established goal of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol is achieved. This process can easily be applied in large-scale commercial environments and can immobilize a wide variety or mixture of enzymes for production.

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