China has a lot of rice in there. In fact, you all know China is famous for their rice crops who everybody imports and enjoys. The researchers have always avoided rice as a biofuel source because it cannot be processed by the bacteria that make the biofuel.
That happened until recently, when a team of chinese researchers discovered a way to a new biofuel. Their new study, scheduled for the July 16 issue of ACS’ bimonthly journal Energy & Fuels, describes a way to boost production of biofuel from rice straw by almost 65 percent.
China is the largest rice producer in the world. Their rice cropping leaves behind about 230 million tons of rice straw each year. This rice straw is the stem and leaves after the grains are harvested.
So, what did they do? They treated the rice straw with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) before allowing the bacteria to interact with it, and ferment it into a biogas. That so-called pretreatment increased biogas production by making more cellulose and other compositions in straw available for digestion by the bacteria. Three prototype facilities have been built in China using this technology.