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Milk Biofuel?

According to an interesting article on MSNBC, researchers these days are looking into the possibility of using all sorts of different waste materials to make biofuels – including spoiled milk. I think it is fantastic any time a ‘waste’ is diverted from landfills, sewers etc and used to create something useful. Of course, I’m a big composting fan, but I also know there are plenty of other great alternatives, not to mention the fact that some organic materials just aren’t ideally suited for the compost heap (I think rotten milk might just be one of them – haha).

The person behind the spoiled-milk-biofuel idea is Masayuki Onodera, a professor/researcher at the Nigata Institute of Technology in Japan. Here is a exerpt from the article:

With a friend whose company transports spoiled milk to a local incinerator, Onodera hit upon the idea of diverting the cargo and putting some of the curdled cow juice to good use.

The professor and his colleagues began their two-step conversion process by brewing a batch of sugar-spiked solution mimicking the bacteria-friendly confines of wastewater. Their small bioreactor relied on heat-loving microbes to digest the sludge in the absence of oxygen at a toasty 131 degrees Fahrenheit, approximating the conditions within some landfills and creating methane as well as carbon dioxide (scientists consider the carbon dioxide release “carbon-neutral” because its escape into the atmosphere is balanced by what had been taken in during photosynthesis by the grass or corn that fed the dairy cows).

Onodera’s team added a portion of the digested glop to a second container filled with rancid milk. When the solution was starved of oxygen and kept at a relatively neutral pH, it yielded eight times its own volume in biogas over a one-week period. Half the captured biogas was hydrogen, the other half carbon dioxide. By periodically replacing part of the bacteria-laden sludge with milk and making sure the solution remained at the right pH, Onodera found that the system continuously produced biogas until he stopped it 100 days later. By then, the solution was yielding more than five times its own volume in biogas every two days.

Be sure to check out the full article here: Got Milk? Convert It Into Biofuel

In my mind, it is these sorts of applications that make the most sense when it comes to creating biofuels. The idea of using high quality agricultural land to grow crops that will be converted into biofuel on the other hand, just seems a wee bit crazy!
Maybe it’s just me!

[tags]biofuel, biogas, methane, hydrogen, wastes, landfill gas, alternative fuels, green energy[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on April 1st, 2008 with no comments.
Read more articles on Biofuel.

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