Biotech Updates

Ghent University Researchers Create Biofuels from Grass

April 12, 2017

Scientists from the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) in Ghent University in Belgium have recently developed a process that can turn grass into fuel. During his PhD research at Ghent University, Way Cern Khor investigated methods that can disintegrate and convert grass into fuel.

In the process, grass is first pretreated to increase its biodegradability. Enriched bacteria are then used to convert the sugars in the grass into lactic acid. The produced lactic acid can serve as an intermediate chemical to produce other compounds such as biodegradable plastics (PLA), or biofuels. In the process, however, lactic acid is converted into caproic acid which was further converted into products such as decane, which can be used as fuel for aviation.

While the approach is revolutionary, currently, the amount of biofuel that can be made from grass in the laboratory is limited to a few drops. However, results indicate that the overall conversion can be highly efficient.