Plastic, cow poop, beer wastewater — you name it, and researchers are working with it to create alternative biofuel products.
Biofuel is a fuel derived directly from living matter, and is being used more and more to potentially replace fossil fuels.
Researchers at the University of San Diego in California are developing an unlikely mixture to help power the future.
“In a sense, I feel like it’s a mix of your kitchen science and sort of, your science lab science,” said Odesma Dalrymple, Ph.D, a professor and researcher at the University of San Diego.
They are taking beer wastewater from Stone Brewing and mixing it with kelp and fish or sheep waste to create a new sustainable fuel option.
Stone Brewing supplied 14 liters of reclaimed beer wastewater to the research team. Last year, using an on-site water reclamation system, they reclaimed more than 11 million gallons of wastewater.
“We are sort of testing that variety of formulas trying to figure out what is the most optimal,” Dalrymple said.
They are using mini anaerobic digesters for the fuel creation process.
They got the idea from a similar project in Barbados, where researchers are combining rum wastewater, sargassum (or seaweed), and sheep waste.
“We tested the stability of this fuel formula and proven that it is a predictable, stable formula for fuel, “ said Legena Henry, Ph.D, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill in Barbados. She is also CEO of Rum and Sargassum Inc. They started the research back in 2019, and Henry said there is enough sargassum growth in her region that it will be enough to power non-electric cars and the electric grid in Barbados.
“By the middle of October, we expect to be driving on this sargassum biogas,” Henry said.
They have set up a biogas pilot gas station to power four cars to start, including her own. She hopes to have drivers in Barbados pay half the amount they pay now to drive every kilometer.
Global demand for biofuels is set to grow by 28 percent over 2021 levels by 2026, or about 41 billion liters, according to the International Energy Agency in 2021.
“The thing that makes, to me, this concept appealing is the fact that it’s built up on waste products,” Dalrymple said.
This means they are cutting down on costs associated with growing the crops using the create the biofuel.
Their hope is this will become a replacement for fossil fuels in cars and other forms of transportation, and that the ingredients in these biofuels will be based on the waste available in certain regions locally.
“Maybe when you’re more in the rural areas, more inland, where there’s much more farmland, maybe the input is much higher in the animal waste element,” Dalrymple explained.
@scrippsnews Researchers are using #beer wastewater, along with other organic matter, to create biofuel that could one day power your cars! 🍺 🚗 #energy #fuel ♬ original sound – Scripps News