New device could make production of alternative biofuels more energy efficient

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Washington, January 8 (ANI): A team of scientists from the University of Sheffield, UK, has developed an innovative device that will make the production of alternative biofuels more energy efficient.

The research team has adapted a unique bioreactor for use in the production of alternative renewable fuels, to replace fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel.

The manufacture of biofuels currently requires vast amounts of power and when the process uses too much energy, it is uneconomic.

This new method consumes much less energy and could prove to be vital to the economic, green production of alternative fuels.

The team has devised an air-lift loop bioreactor which creates microbubbles using 18 percent less energy consumption.

Microbubbles are miniature gas bubbles of less than 50 microns diameter in water.

They are able to transfer materials in a bioreactor much more rapidly than larger bubbles produced by conventional bubble generation techniques and they consume much less energy.

The team's unique adaption of the bioreactor and creation of microbubbles has the potential to revolutionise the energy-efficient production of biofuels.

In recognition of this breakthrough, the team has been awarded the Moulton Medal from the Institution of Chemical Engineers, which recognises the best paper published in the Institution's journal during the year.

The approach is currently being tested with researchers from Suprafilt in Rochdale on industrial stack gases.

The team is also currently testing the application of the device with local water company Yorkshire Water.

According to Professor Martin Tillotson, from Yorkshire Water, "Many of our processes use forced air in order to treat water and wastewater streams and, given the huge volumes, it is very costly in electricity and carbon terms."

"This technology offers the potential to produce a step-change in energy performance," he said. (ANI)

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