UMEI faculty affiliate aims to turn cornstalks into better biofuel
Using a community of fungus and genetically modified E. coli, a Michigan Engineering professor has developed a way to turn corn stalks and leaves into biofuel. The process breaks down waste plant materials into a sugar, which is then turned into isobutanol. Professor Nina Lin and her team argue that their isobutanol could be better than ethanol and other biofuels because it can be dropped into the fuel tank or pipeline without any disruption or corrosion. Gallon for gallon, isobutanol also gives off 82 percent of the heat energy gasoline provides when burned, compared to ethanol’s 67 percent.
Lin and her team hope their solution will be a more efficient alternative to existing biofuels like ethanol, particularly because it uses waste rather than the food itself. In addition, they believe that the methods they are developing could also be adapted to make generating other biofuels more efficient.
Check out the video at the link.