Weird Ways To Make Fuel
Interestingly it is in fact possible to convert chip fat into an alternative fuel for diesel-powered engines. Indeed this kind of oil can be converted into a biodiesel. Whilst it is not possible or indeed advisable to pour chip oil straight into your diesel fuel tank, given that such oil is often too thick for standard diesel engines, there are a number of means by which it is possible to convert it into a usable fuel source. For example you can thin down the oil by removing some of its constituents, such as glycerine, or alternatively you can also make modifications to your engine. Interestingly, according to this report from the Guardian, a number of individuals such as these London cabbies have chosen to do so, and have made great use of something that would ordinarily be poured down the drain or otherwise end up in landfill.
According to a recent news article from the BBC another surprising potential fuel source is the bacteria E. coli. Researchers have found that it is possible to genetically modify E. coli bacteria to convert sugar into an oil that is almost identical to conventional diesel. This groundbreaking discovery has created much excitement within the scientific community and it is thought that if a means of scaling up the process were to be developed, then it may be possible to use such a fuel source as a viable alternative to current fossil fuels. The article quotes Professor of Synthetic Biology at the University of Exeter John Love, as stating “Rather than making a replacement fuel like some biofuels, we have made a substitute fossil fuel. The idea is that car manufacturers, consumers and fuel retailers wouldn’t even notice the difference – it would just become another part of the fuel production chain.”
Algae are a simple type of naturally-occurring aquatic plant found across the globe. Interestingly a number of individuals have suggested that these simple organisms may have the potential to revolutionise the fuel industry, and many millions of dollars have already been invested in projects to aid the discovery of the hidden potential of algae. The interest in algae was generated by the fact that these simple plants have a high oil content, which can be converted into biodiesel. Furthermore algae also have the potential to convert carbohydrates such as sugar into various types of oil, which can then be extracted and converted into a number of different types of fuel. Though there still remain some concerns regarding the economic viability of fuels derived from algae and the best ways to unlock the potential of these amazing organisms, significant progress has already been made. For example as reported by the Guardian one company has already sold an algae-derived jet fuel to United Airlines, which used it to fly a Boeing 737-800 from Houston to Chicago, the first time a commercial jet flew using a biofuel made using algae.
A key advantage of algae, as opposed to other potential alternative fuel sources, is that it could feasibly be easily mass-produced, and furthermore algae are a rapid growing plant variety that also has the added advantage of not competing with other agricultural crops designed for production for land.
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