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Researchers Discover Process To Convert Bamboo Into Biofuel
A research team has discovered a process to convert bamboo into a bio-ethanol fuel that can not only reduce reliance on fossil fuels in tanks with a vacuum relief valve but also does not require the widespread use of land that could be used for farming and agriculture.
The discovery, made by a team at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, could have major implications for countries currently reliant on petroleum-based fuels and lack the available land to grow other common biofuel crops such as corn.
Bamboo is an exceptionally resilient plant that can grow on marginal lands not otherwise suited to agriculture, and the development of a relatively simple process can have major implications for nations that have issues with fuel shortages.
The process works through grinding up the bamboo using ball milling, before using an enzyme treatment to convert the bamboo into simple base sugars that are fermented to create ethanol.
This significantly increases the ethanol yield of bamboo without generating any new chemical waste, which makes it a viable approach to help with decarbonisation efforts.
It also can be grown without competing for land required for producing food, removing a power/food dilemma from biofuel production.
As well as this, there is less concern about crop yields with bamboo, given its infamous resilience. It can survive and stay green year-round even in countries with either little rain or monsoon seasons.
It also bends without breaking and the strength of its fibres has seen it be used as scaffolding and even to produce bicycle frames.
The research team, using the country of Nigeria as a case study, found that due to the abundance of bamboo, the technology could meet four-fifths of the country’s fuel requirements, and due to being a relatively simple and affordable process, could be used in countries where other biofuel methods are not viable.