Biomass to Biofuel
We have all seen the headlines about global warming: Sea levels may rise by 60cm within the century. Loss of ecosystems leads to extinction of species. Fossil fuels will be lost within 120 years. It’s a wake-up call.
So, how can we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and also reduce our carbon footprint? Well, at Trinity College Dublin, we think we have the answer to this burning question, in the form of bio-ethanol.
First generation bio fuels were pioneered in Brazil, where dedicated crops such as corn and sugar cane were used as a starting material for yeast fermentation. However, successful as this process was, it required vast amounts of land. How can a small country like Ireland adopt, and revolutionize this process?
At the Moyne Institute of Trinity College, we’re looking at the third generation of bio-fuels, in which bio ethanol is produced cheaply and often from waste material. In my lab, I am looking to simplify and make bio ethanol production cheaper in two ways: First, by using waste materials instead of dedicated crops as starting material; and secondly by looking to combine various stages within bio-ethanol processing to make it cheaper.
Bio ethanol production is made up of five main stages:
• Enzyme breakdown
I’m looking to combine these stages by expressing enzymes within brewery use which are known to have a high ethanol yield. Hopefully, through this process, I will make bio ethanol cheap and economically viable and available to the masses.
At Trinity, we’re hoping to combine science with a favourite Irish past time of drinking, to revolutionize and make Ireland a world leader in the bio ethanol production field.