Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant potential in the pipeline

24.11.2006
Think for a moment about what you have done so far today -- made a cup of tea, driven to work, sent an e-mail or text?

Each of those activities is dependent on oil, from fuel for transport to the plastic parts of your kettle, car, keyboard and mobile. Development of our high-impact consumer lifestyles is accelerating even as fossil fuel supplies are dwindling, and the environmental impact of their use becomes ever more apparent.

But plants, rather than fossil fuels, can provide our future energy, fuel and domestic needs and today an international group of scientists will reveal how. The EPOBIO project, led by CNAP, a research centre at the University of York, is releasing its first series of reports on the endless possibilities of plants.

The renewable revolution

Plants offer a sustainable tool to achieve the renewable revolution. They are ‘green factories’ using energy from sunlight to make biofuel, bioplastics and a range of other products cheaply and in large quantities. The reports, issued today by the EPOBIO project, present detailed analyses of how plant products and plants themselves can be used to replace products made using oil.

EPOBIO co-ordinator and CNAP Director Professor Dianna Bowles, said: “Two key threats to society are our dependence on finite fossil fuels and climate change.Plants have the potential to provide us with everything now made using petroleum, creating a sustainable society for the future and addressing immediate concerns such as energy costs, security of supply and our impact on the environment.”

Key issues:

The need for alternative sources of natural rubber:

- natural rubber is a strategic commodity, irreplaceable by synthetic alternatives, for many of its applications, e.g. heavy duty tyres for SUVs, trucks and aeroplanes.

- the incidence of allergic reactions to proteins in natural rubber (latex) is increasing. Natural rubber is used to make protective medical products, posing a potential risk to both patients and medical workers.

- the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, is at risk from a fungal disease which has already decimated large-scale rubber production in South America.

- predictions of future shortages in supply

The potential of using plants as an energy supply:

- biofuels, power, chemicals, materials and fibres can be all made from plants rather than oil in integrated processing systems called biorefineries.

- the use of plant material reduces greenhouse gas emissions while guaranteeing security of supply.

- the plant material and processing method needs to be optimised to increase yield and quality of the end products and reduce energy and chemical inputs.

The potential of producing lubricants from plants:

- plant oils have similar structures and properties to mineral oils and can be used in many of the applications now dependent on mineral oils.

- wax esters have excellent properties as lubricants but their use has previously been limited by the high cost of extraction from jojoba seeds.

- the low cost production of wax esters from the non-food oil crop Crambe abyssinica will provide a sustainable supply of lubricants to use in engine, transmission and hydraulic fluids.

The EPOBIO project involves a partnership between experts in plant science, environmental impact assessment, economic analysis and social expectations and combines these strengths to identify the plant-based products which offer greatest benefit to society within the next 10-15 years.

David Garner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.york.ac.uk
http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/epobio.htm

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Cascading use is also beneficial for wood
11.12.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht The future of crop engineering
08.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>