CFAES scientist Thaddeus Ezeji presents “Liquid Biofuel Production from Biomass: Challenges and Opportunities” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, in 244 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Road, on Ohio State’s Columbus campus and in 121 Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., on the Wooster campus of CFAES’s research arm, OARDC. The talk’s sponsor is our Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. (Photo: Center for Applied Plant Sciences.)
OARDC, CFAES’s research arm, now has four environmentally friendly bi-fuel vehicles on the road as part of a new demonstration project. The vehicles can run on gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), which is a less-polluting, less-expensive fuel. Furthermore, most of the CNG is expected to come from renewable, locally produced, non-fossil-fuel-based biogas. Read the story …
Corn can give us more ethanol, a biofuel, and Fred Michel, a CFAES biosystems engineer (pictured), and Cleveland’s Arisdyne Systems Inc. are working together to get it. Arisdyne’s new “cavitation” technology produces 2-3 percent more ethanol from the same amount of corn, and Michel is helping to test, validate, and refine how it works. Adopting cavitation could boost the U.S. ethanol industry’s annual revenue by an estimated $500-plus million.
With increasing gas prices, dependence on imported oil, and depleting resources worldwide, finding alternatives to petroleum-based fuel is considered an urgent priority.
One alternative, biofuel, is a controversial issue because the sources that are most commonly used to produce biofuel are soybeans (for biodiesel) and corn (for ethanol). These crops require large amounts of land and energy for both growth and refinement.
In contrast, algae are easy to grow and can be manipulated to produce huge amounts without disturbing any natural habitats or food sources. As far as the food-versus-fuel debate is concerned, algae are the clear winners for biofuel.
Algae also fit into Ohio State’s One Framework Plan for sustainability because they are carbon neutral. Algae are microscopic organisms, which, like plants, use photosynthesis to convert light into chemical energy while at the same time absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Ohio State has the opportunity to also become more carbon neutral by using B100 (100 percent biodiesel) algae fuel in its Campus Area Bus System (CABS). The university currently uses B20 (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent petroleum diesel) from soybean oil. B20 is cleaner than conventional fossil fuel, but we believe that Ohio State should transition to B100 in all of the CABS buses and become a leader in alternative energy.
Ohio State’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio, has already begun research on algae as a biofuel replacement. With collaborative interdepartmental research projects, the lofty vision of a domestically produced fuel supply could become a reality.
This graphic, used with permission from Cellana LLC, depicts how algae can be converted into energy and other useful resources.