|UK scientists promote clean hydrogen as future biofuel
Scientists from the University of Birmingham in the UK believe clean hydrogen created from food waste will be a strong bioenergy contender in the future.
The scientists presented their research at a collaborative bioenergy workshop in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Participants came from the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham in the UK and three Sao Paulo-based universities including Sao Paulo State University.
Brazil is currently at the forefront of both production and consumption of bioethanol for use as a transport fuel. However, critics claim that mass production of bioethanol from sugar cane is not sustainable.
The scientists from the University of Birmingham argue that whereas the production and consumption of bioethanol produces CO2, clean hydrogen produces no CO2 when used. In addition, it can be produced from agricultural waste and even from the waste product of bioethanol production.
Professor Lynne Macaskie, Professor of Applied Microbiology at the University of Birmingham said, “Bioethanol is the current biofuel of choice in Brazil but our research shows the huge potential for biohydrogen to be the fuel for the future. Biohydrogen could even be made from the wastes from bioethanol production - two biofuels for the price of one.”
She also said: “At the moment manufacturers pay to dispose of waste but with our technique they could convert it to clean electricity instead.”
Converting waste into an economic input features prominently on the sustainability agendas of metropolitan areas. In the UK the policy has been backed by the CBI and the Mayor of London. However, given its large-scale adoption of bioethanol Brazil seems by far the more promising testing ground for the technology, helping it reach commercial scale. But as with all things renewable, the future is uncertain and depends as much on the idea as on investment.