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 Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

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: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>