My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

Is trash the solution to tackling climate change?

Waste-based biofuel could cut global emissions by over 80 percent

02-Oct-2009

Converting the trash that fills the world's landfills into biofuel may be the answer to both the growing energy crisis and to tackling carbon emissions, claim scientists in Singapore and Switzerland. New research published in Global Change Biology: Bioenergy, reveals how replacing gasoline with biofuel from processed waste could cut global carbon emissions by 80%.

Biofuels produced from crops have proven controversial because they require an increase in crop production which has its own severe environmental costs. However, second-generation biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol derived from processed urban waste, may offer dramatic emissions savings without the environmental catch.

"Our results suggest that fuel from processed waste biomass, such as paper and cardboard, is a promising clean energy solution," said study author Associate Professor Hugh Tan of the National University of Singapore. "If developed fully this biofuel could simultaneously meet part of the world's energy needs, while also combating carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependency."

The team used the United Nation's Human Development Index to estimate the generation of waste in 173 countries. This data was then coupled to the Earthtrends database to estimate the amount of gasoline consumed in those same countries.

The team found that 82.93 billion litres of cellulosic ethanol could be produced from the world's landfill waste and that by substituting gasoline with the resulting biofuel, global carbon emissions could be cut by figures ranging from 29.2% to 86.1% for every unit of energy produced.

"If this technology continues to improve and mature these numbers are certain to increase," concluded co-author Dr. Lian Pin Koh from ETH Zürich. "This could make cellulosic ethanol an important component of our renewable energy future."

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Singapore
  • second-generation biofuels
  • ETH Zürich
More about Wiley
More about ETH Zürich
  • News

    3D printing of silicone components

    ETH spin-off Spectroplast has developed a method to make silicone products using a 3D printer. The young company now plans to bring to market customised medical products such as hearing aids, breast prosthesis for breast cancer patients and eventually even artificial heart valves. Their ult ... more

    How light steers electrons in metals

    ETH physicists have measured how electrons in so-called transition metals get redistributed within a fraction of an optical oscillation cycle. They observed the electrons getting concentrated around the metal atoms within less than a femtosecond. This regrouping might influence important ma ... more

    A catalyst for sustainable methanol

    Scientists at ETH Zurich and oil and gas company Total have developed a new catalyst that converts CO2 and hydrogen into methanol. Offering realistic market potential, the technology paves the way for the sustainable production of fuels and chemicals. The global economy still relies on the ... more

  • Videos

    Oxybromination of methane over vanadium phosphate

    ETH Zurich scientists have discovered a new catalyst that allows the easy conversion of natural gas constituents into precursors for the production of fuels or complex chemicals, such as polymers or pharmaceuticals. The new catalyst is extremely stable and results in fewer unwanted by-produ ... more

More about National University of Singapore
  • News

    Graphene enters the stratosphere

    The Centre for Advanced Two-Dimensional Materials (CA2DM) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has teamed up with US-based aerospace company Boreal Space to test the properties of graphene after it has been launched into the stratosphere. The results could provide insights into how ... more

    Novel method to fabricate nanoribbons from speeding nano droplets

    An international team of researchers, affiliated with UNIST has discovered a novel method for the synthesis of ultrathin semiconductors. This is a unique growth mechanism, which yielded nanoscopic semiconductor ribbons that are only a few atoms thick. This breakthrough has been jointly cond ... more

    New insights into promising semiconductor material

    Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have established new findings on the properties of two-dimensional molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a widely studied semiconductor of the future. In two separate studies led by Professor Andrew Wee and Assistant Professor Andrivo Rusyd ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE