UK researchers develop biomass-to-hydrogen systems

Sugary waste providing enables bacteria to produce hydrogen for a range of purposes

Researchers at U.K.-based University of Birmingham are developing a method to use biofuel waste, specifically sugarcane bagasse, as a feedstock for biobased hydrogen production. According to information released by the university, the sustainability of long-term sugarcane ethanol production has been questioned. However, taking the agricultural waste products of the process and using them to convert biobased hydrogen for use in fuel cells could increase the sustainability of biofuel production.

“Fuel cells need clean energy to run them,” said Lynne Macaskie, a professor of applied microbiology at the University of Birmingham. “If you provide bacteria with a supply of sugary waste from, for example, chocolate production, the bacteria can produce hydrogen. At the moment manufacturers pay to dispose of waste but with our technique they could convert it to clean electricity instead.” According to Macaskie, the same process could take in sugarcane waste and product hydrogen, but she cautions more research work is needed as agricultural wastes, such as sugarcane bagasse, are more difficult for bacteria to digest.

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Tags: high-sugar waste products, Science City Hydrogen Energy project, hydrogen generation, hydrogen storage, fuel cells


Biorefining Magazine, 2012-06-04.


University of Birmingham


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