Photofuel – Biocatalytic solar fuels for tolerable mobility in Europe

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A new European investigate plan is rebellious a approach prolongation of travel fuels from sunlight, CO2 and H2O with biocatalysts in sealed systems

The Photofuel plan will rise a subsequent era record for a tolerable prolongation of alternative, glass travel fuels. The plea is to allege a bottom record of microalgae cultivation in sealed bioreactors by enabling phototrophic algae or cyanobacterial microorganisms to furnish alkanes and alcohols, that are excreted to a enlightenment gas for approach subdivision but dungeon harvesting. This thereby turns a microbial cells into self-reproducing biocatalysts permitting a routine to directly modify solar energy, H2O and CO2 into engine-ready fuels as shown in a figure above.

Schematic illustration of a Photofuel process. Solar energy, H2O and CO2 are converted by microbial cells, grown in photobioreactors, into engine-ready fuels. Image credit: Klaus Lenz, SYNCOM

Schematic illustration of a Photofuel process. Solar energy, H2O and CO2 are converted by microbial cells, grown in photobioreactors, into engine-ready fuels. Image credit: Klaus Lenz, SYNCOM

In a plan concurrent by Volkswagen AG, 6 investigate institutions and 6 industrial partners from all tools of a value sequence will participate. European investigate groups on biocatalyst development, algae cultivation, fuels investigate and sustainability comment from Bielefeld, Florence, London, Karlsruhe, Uppsala and Paris are fasten army with automobile and renewable fuel producers from Sweden, Italy, Germany, Finland and Portugal.

Europe is pinning a hopes on travel fuel from microorganism-based systems. Photofuel is one of usually dual investigate and growth projects for new fuel prolongation pathways, that were selected for appropriation underneath a 2014 call for Low Carbon Energy underneath a Horizon2020 EU Research Framework Programme. The plan started May 2015 and will have a generation of 4 years. It is saved by a EU with a sum volume of roughly EUR 6 million.

Research during Bielefeld University within this collaborative plan will be achieved during a Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec) and a Faculty of Biology in a organisation of Algae Biotechnology Bioenergy. “Our charge will be a appearance and coordination of molecular biology investigate aiming for a investiture of microalgae and cyanobacteria as “green dungeon factories” for a tolerable prolongation of hydrocarbons that can be used as gasoline and diesel replacements” explains Prof. Dr. Olaf Kruse, a Scientific Director of a CeBiTec.

The plan will cover a whole value sequence from growth of microbial systems for approach fuel production, their validation on commander scale, fuel consistent and engine performance, record risks, as good as a comment of socio-economic and environmental impacts. The design is to significantly urge a potency of solar biofuels in a future. The approach prolongation of engine-ready fuel is approaching to urge a appetite potency of several stairs along a chain: Biomass prolongation is singular to a smallest volume indispensable to say a turn of catalytic activity. This maximizes on a one side a motion of metabolic appetite towards fuel prolongation and reduces on a other side a submit direct e.g. for fertilizer. In this strategy, energy-intensive dungeon harvesting is omitted. Biomass is not distant nor dusty before to fuels member extraction. For example, undecane is a drop-in fuel that might directly reinstate diesel or kerosene, while further of butanol and octanol will assuage a hot point/vapor vigour issues of E5 and E10 gasoline but a need to sell a already existent infrastructure for storage, placement and function in vehicles.

Source: Bielefeld University