October 16, 2008
New Way Proposed to Make Energy From Waste
U.S. scientists say they have developed a method of producing competitively priced energy from municipal, agricultural, and forest wastes.
Researchers from Purdue University and the Rochester Institute of Technology say their flexible carbon-to-liquid fuel process could replace 20 percent of the transportation fuels consumed annually in the United States.
Purdue Professor Fu Zhao, the study's lead author, said the technology could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent.
"This technique is more flexible than conventional methods because we can process a wider range of very different feedstocks and, at the same time, we can generate a wider range of end products -- not just gasoline and diesel. but ethanol and hydrogen," said Zhao. "Or we could generate electricity directly from the gas produced."
The scientists said their new system heats paper, wood, plastic and rubber into a gas. Hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases, referred to as synthesis gas or syngas, are separated and fuel a turbine that generates electricity, or are converted to gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel or biofuels.
The research was reported last month in Busan, Korea, during the 6th Global Conference on Sustainable Product Development and Life Cycle Engineering.