Photo of Naples rubbish piles by chrisjohnbeckett
Barely a week goes by without news headlines announcing yet another innovative way of making biofuel, something that was lauded as remarkable only at the beginning of the year but has since fallen from grace.
Many new biofuel initiatives sound great at the outset but once the mechanics and background information are revealed they seem to be just as harmful to the environment as existing methods of fuel extraction. That is, until now.
A group of Spanish developers, led by researcher Francisco Angulo, have announced their creative means of producing biofuel, which it appears, may help the environment in more ways than one; they intend to make biofuel from general urban waste.
They intend to treat the garbage with a certain bacteria, which in turn produces fatty acids that can be used to produce standard biodiesel. In a press release from Ecofasa, the company responsible for the concept, they state: “The process is fully biologic, competes with no feedstock and is really sustainable.
“It is based on the metabolism's bionatural principle, by means of which all living organisms, including bacteria, produce fatty acids.
“As biotechnology takes part in it, and the yeasts and bacteria produce the process, it does not require the input of energy or heat that others need, so it is also highly worthwhile in terms of its energy balance.”
The drawback? Only one liter of biodiesel is yielded per 10 kg of trash treated.
However, the process is still in the development phase and won’t be ready for commercial use for another three to four years, so there’s plenty of time for it to loose face, too. Let’s hope not.