Consolidated Bioprocessing of Corn Stover to Ethanol and Hydrogen in a Microbial Electrolysis Cell Boosts Energy Production by Factor of 20
A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces 20 times more energy than existing methods.
The team has developed bioelectrochemical systems known as microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs, using bacteria to breakdown and ferment agricultural waste into ethanol. This platform is unique because it employs a second bacterium, which, when added to the mix, removes all the waste fermentation byproducts or nonethanol materials while generating electricity.
Similar microbial fuel cells have been investigated before. However, maximum energy recoveries from corn stover, a common feedstock for biofuels, hover around 3.5 percent. Reguera’s platform, despite the energy invested in chemical pretreatment of the corn stover, averaged 35 to 40 percent energy recovery just from the fermentation process.
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