Gallery: Researcher Develops Plant-Based Non-Petroleum Fuel Additive


Fuel additives are generally petroleum or chemical based supplements injected into fuel that serve a number of purposes — cleaning the engine to reduce emissions related to global warming, lubricating parts or increasing gas mileage. Thomas Bobik, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology at Iowa State University has developed a process to turn plant glucose into isobutene — which is used in fuels as well as in rubbers, plastics and adhesives. If proven effective this could be a huge boost to the biofuel and bio-plastic industries.

Isobutene is a gas, so we can imagine that it will be easy to remove the isobutene from the vessel in which it was made, and that should be a very cheap and efficient way to purify the biofuel,” said Bobik noting the process of purifying biofuels from the water in which it is made. Purifying biofuels is continually a difficult process for the renewable energy world. Currently one of the most expensive parts of producing biofuels is separating the resulting oil from water — this process is removed with Bobik’s plant-based additive because it is a gas.

Bobik and his team are hoping their additive will replace current fuel additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MBTE) which is harmful to the environment. He believes that this fuel additive will make biofuels more efficient and allow a larger mpg ratio. Previously scientists have only produced fuel additives that increase efficiency from petroleum products, which is not conducive to the biofuel industry. The current problem with Bobik’s conversion technology is that it takes too long to produce the resulting additive. “So we’re trying to use directed enzyme evolution to improve the activity of the enzyme so it can become commercially viable,” Bobik noted. His team thinks they’ll have a commercial friendly product within a decade.

+ Iowa State University

Via Science Daily


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1 Comment

  1. yucafiero November 20, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I’m a marine engineer and have worked in the tuna industry since the mid 70’s. Background before fishing a midwest dirt farmer.
    Lo and behold, there is a product that I have been testing totally bio with mineral oil base. We call the molecular structure estre based with many derivatives combined. The formula is old, called Omstar. It gives renewable resourced fuels a kick, diesel and 2 cycle engines, 4 cycle, and filthy bunker C it should be required here, cheap fuel and loaded with carbon. I know that I can zero out waste oil conditioning engines with this product. Hvae been experimenting over 4 years now and have not had machinery problems. I test with And the proprietor there is in awe. Change your oil every 6,000 hours or per year.
    Haven’t had the opportunity to run natural gas or coal gassifaction. Either or if better and cleaner combustion is acheived, and these esters used in the lube oil. Engine runs effortlessly for many hours. It idiot proofs commercial plants and a boon to having to overhaul less frequently. Engines do wear out, but remember too they were designed to run on bio fuel too.
    I would like feed back here, ZI’m a in field engineer looking for
    any fuel saving initatives. I’ve been able to cut fuel comsumptions by over 30%. A in tune ups proper maintenence and a good bioconditioner. You find that you’ll be paying more attention to your maintnenace in wonderment. It’s amazes me that this is natural and has a huge impact on the energy market.
    Reducing friction will always be a concern in our gravity field.
    This stuff does it and doesn’t break down as readily.


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