Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) claim to have found a technology that holds the future of biofuels. They built a bioenergy reactor, which contains a special bioengineered bacteria that can convert biowaste into ready-to-use fuel for vehicles in a space of a few days.
The team claims that the invention is a flexible and reliable source of renewable energy, which can not only serve as a simple and efficient way to produce fuel for various purposes, but it can also be used in remote and difficult to access areas around the world.
The new bacteria have the ability to utilize almost any type of biological waste and to turn it into phytol and fermentation broth. When the alcohol is separated from the broth, it has all the qualities and can serve all functions of conventional diesel fuel, allowing it to be either directly used in vehicles or as part of a blend.
The team led by Phil Laible, together with Matthew Michaud, the Air Force Fellow, decided to insert the bacteria into a reactor, which they refer to as Endurance Bioenergy Reactor, so that the process can be optimized. Here the process of energy conversion begins as soon as the fermentation vessel tank is full. A potential customer of the technology will only need to open up a bag that contains the bacteria, empty it inside the reactor where the waste is, and voilà, the fuel is made.
According to the makers, one reactor can generate as much as 50 gallons of phytol biofuel a day, which can prove particularly useful to areas that are located far from the grid. The technology promises a huge reduction in energy costs, and it fulfills all safety requirements. The makers are convinced that it will prove particularly useful to the military services around the world, who face fuel shortage in remote areas. The reactor can provide fuel on the spot, minimizing the risks associated with fuel convoys.