Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher Develops Green, Bio-Based Process for Producing Fuel Additive

28.06.2010
A new green, bio-based method for producing a much-used fuel additive and industrial chemical that is currently made from petroleum products has been developed by an Iowa State University researcher.

Thomas Bobik, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, invented a process for manufacturing isobutene (isobutylene) by identifying a new, natural enzyme that produces the fuel organically.

Bobik, along with David Gogerty, a doctoral student working with him on the project, believe that once more research is completed, there could be huge benefits to the biofuels industry.

“I would emphasize that we are very early on in the process,” said Bobik. “But isobutene has some special properties that could have a big impact.”

Bobik’s enzyme makes it possible to convert the glucose found naturally in plants to make isobutene. The enzyme is found naturally in about half of all organisms in the world.

While patent applications proceed, Bobik will not disclose the specific enzyme.

Isobutene is a gas used to produce chemicals and also in the manufacturing of fuel additives, adhesives, plastics and synthetic rubber.

It can be chemically converted to isooctane, which is a fuel that could be used to replace gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MBTE), which can be environmentally harmful.

Isooctane is used in gasoline to stop engine knocking and other problems. Currently, isooctane is produced from petroleum products.

By using his naturally occurring, biological process to produce isobutene, Bobik believes there will be environmental and cost benefits to the biofuels industry.

Currently, one of the biggest expenses in producing the biofuel ethanol is the cost of separating the ethanol from the water where it’s made. Bobik’s new process will not include the cost of separation.

“Isobutene is a gas, so we can imagine that it will be easy to remove the isobutene from the vessel in which it was made, and that should be a very cheap and efficient way to purify the biofuel,” said Bobik.

One of the drawbacks, Bobik warns, is the process currently takes too long.

“The activity of the enzyme (in making the isobutene) is low,” Bobik said. “It’s too low for commercial application. So we’re trying to use directed enzyme evolution to improve the activity of the enzyme so it can become commercially viable.”

Directed enzyme evolution is the effort to engineer enzymes to perform certain functions. In this case, it is trying to find a way to get the enzyme to produce isobutene more quickly than in nature.

Bobik says progress is being made rapidly and perhaps, within 10 years, motorists may be using a bio-based, environmentally friendly ingredient in their gas tanks every time they fill up.

Thomas Bobik, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, (515) 294-4165, bobik@iastate.edu

Thomas Bobik | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Large-scale battery storage system in field trial
11.12.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

nachricht New test procedure for developing quick-charging lithium-ion batteries
07.12.2017 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

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

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

Large-scale battery storage system in field trial

11.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>