A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods. The results, published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology, showcase a novel way to use microbes to produce biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes.
The research team have developed bioelectrochemical systems known as microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs, using bacteria to breakdown and ferment agricultural waste into ethanol. The platform is unique because it employs a second bacterium, which, when added to the mix, removes all the waste fermentation byproducts or nonethanol materials while generating electricity.
To review the process, refer to the following paper:
Allison M. Speers, Gemma Reguera. Consolidated Bioprocessing of AFEX-Pretreated Corn Stover to Ethanol and Hydrogen in a Microbial Electrolysis Cell. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012