I didn’t really actively realize that current biofuel production technologies imply the usage of fossil fuels at certain moments of the production process. This fact reduces the biofuels’ credibility as a cleaner source of energy and increases their carbon footprint.
To make the biofuel production more efficient, some researches from the University of Sheffield have innovated a step in the production process that could also decrease the biofuel’s carbon footprint by reducing the quantity of energy required to produce it.
The researchers adapted their uniquely-built bioreactor to actually replace fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel. The team devised their air-lift loop bioreactor that creates microbubbles using 18% less energy. Microbubbles are small gas bubbles, having less than 50 microns diameter in water. These microbubbles are transferring the materials in a bioreactor much quicker than larger ones, produced by conventional bubble generation techniques, thus consuming much less energy.
This microbubble production technique is also able to aid wastewater cleaners. Yorkshire’s water company is already testing the new discovery to get better performance in the treatment of wastewater, and has expectations to reduce electricity costs by a third using it.
Professor Martin Tillotson, from Yorkshire Water, said: “Many of our processes use forced air in order to treat water and wastewater streams and, given the huge volumes, it is very costly in electricity and carbon terms. This technology offers the potential to produce a step-change in energy performance. We are pleased to be working with Professor Zimmerman and his group in developing the microbubble technology, and delighted with the recognition they have received from the Moulton Medal award.”