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Current Affairs

IIT H researchers use sugar to produce bio fuel precursor

Date: 21 August 2019 Tags: Energy

Issue

 

Researchers at IIT Hyderabad have developed a simple and innovative method to synthesize a catalyst that can convert chemicals derived from biomass into a precursor to diesel and jet fuel.

 

Background

  • A biofuel is a fuel that is produced through contemporary processes from biomass, rather than a fuel produced by the very slow geological processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as oil.
  • Biofuels can be produced from plants (energy crops), or from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and/or industrial wastes.

Details

  • Catalyst showed better efficiency and selectivity than commercial catalysts to produce C15 oxygenated hydrocarbon, a biofuel precursor.
  • The researchers described the process that can produce carbon catalysts at room temperatures using sugar, sulphuric acid and salt. The dehydration of sugar by concentrated sulfuric acid is a simple chemical process. But the intense heat released is not well-controlled.
  • In order to control the exothermic dehydration of sugar, the researchers add common salt. Salt helps in controlled dehydration of sugar, which leads to formation of the desired carbon nanoplates.
  • Low cost of precursors with practically zero energy input and simplicity of reaction has made this process of producing carbon nanoplates to be easily adapted for large-scale commercial production.

Importance of Discovery

  • This development is important for States such as Uttar Pradesh and the two Telugu states which are the largest producers of corn in India.
  • The large amount of corncob waste can now be converted into fuels and allow additional income for farmers of corn, provide a sustainable energy source and reduce carbon footprint in the automobile/ aviation sector.