Technological advancements in algae, jatropha, waste grease (maybe even Camelina?) are expected to boost biodiesel revenues worldwide, according to this recent study from Pike Research.
The study reports that by 2020, global biodiesel revenues are estimated to reach $71 billion, up from $18 billion expected this year. Helping the industry are powerful backers such as oil companies and biotechnology companies, Pike research’s managing director Clint Wheelock said.
“Biogenetics is becoming a huge factor in the evolution of the market,” says Wheelock, “and biofuels companies are really leveraging the scientific knowledge base of genetic engineering. Biotech companies will be some of the big beneficiaries as the new breed of biofuels matures.”
As an example of current developments is a new process being developed by chemists from the University of California Davis that increases biodiesel feedstock yields of up to 24% coming from oilseed crops such as safflower.
According to the researchers, this process converts the plant’s carbohydrates into chemicals called levulinic acid esters — and at the same time and in the same vessel that the plant’s oils are converted to fatty acid esters — resulting in a fuel cocktail that performs better at low temperatures than conventional biodiesel.
The researchers are partnering with Bently Biofuels of Minden, Nev., to test the performance of levulinate/B100 blends.
Meanwhile in the ethanol sector, another group of scientists this time from the University of Central Florida, found that waste products such as orange peels and newspapers can be used as raw materials for ethanol production.
The technology- developed with U.S. Department of Agriculture funding — uses plant-derived enzyme cocktails to break down orange peels and other waste materials into sugar, which is then fermented into ethanol.
[Photo from www.chrismadden.co.uk]
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