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Squeezing petrol from landfill

DumpYou may have guessed but Greenbang has a touch of the hippy about her.  She recycles everything she can and has been known to rummage about in her rubbish after her flatmate has thrown a piece of recyclable plastic.

She detests the idea of landfill.  And this has heightened since a landfill site has spoiled her views over the miles of rolling West Country hills.

So she’s pleased that a company has done something about it.

Ineos, a major chemical company, has announced it may have cracked the conundrum to produce bioethanol from waste.  It’s aiming to produce it in vast quantities too and thinks it could produce commercial levels withing two years.

Indeed, the company has stated it can convert one tonne of dry waste into about 400 litres of ethanol, which can either be blended with traditional fuels or replace them altogether, to substantially reduce vehicle emissions.  It also estimates its bioethanol releases up to 90% less net greenhouse gases than petrol.

Its CEO, Peter Williams, has stated , “In North America and Europe we will see around 10% or more of petrol being replaced with bioethanol.

“We expect to announce the location of the first commercial plant fairly shortly and we will aim to quickly roll out our technology around the world. We plan to be producing commercial amounts of bioethanol fuel for cars from waste within about two years. ”

A little from the release:

The technology – already proven at pilot plant scale – uses a simple three-stage process. The waste is first superheated to produce gases. Then, through a patented process, the gases are fed to naturally occurring bacteria, which efficiently produce ethanol. Finally, the ethanol is purified to make the fuel ready to be blended for use in cars.

Car companies have already developed engines that can run efficiently on both bioethanol and conventional fuels. Up to now, the challenge has been that bioethanol is manufactured primarily from food crops and this has raised concerns on price and availability.

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