Updated: Oct 3, 2022
Alternative fuels from the plant world make their way through the energy sector.
The recent energy crisis that is impacting heavily on the European continent is pushing research to find alternative solutions to fossil fuels to meet growing energy needs. Human beings cannot do without energy resources to progress and lack of energy services could make local communities regress of centuries ago. But Nature seems to provide us with new opportunities. What if seeds are the new fuels of the future? Italy's state-controlled energy company, Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi – ENI, has recently announced (July 2022) a new project involving Kenya (Africa) in the bio-refining industry. The well-established Energy Company completed the construction of the plant equipped to collect and press of oleaginous seeds in Makueni, kicking off the production of the first vegetable oil for the bio-refineries. It is therefore estimated a production of 2,500 tons in 2022 within the new agri-hub (total capacity: 15 thousand tons). Castor oil seeds, croton seeds and cotton seeds will be processed via high-tech devices. A winning result from the point of view of sustainability: crops are well adapted to the local dry weather; local communities hopefully will be growing and every step of production will follow the canons of the circular economy, using the protein parts of the seeds to produce animal feed and bio-fertilisers. “This project embodies all the pillars of Eni’s approach to sustainability: carbon neutrality, since bio-refining is an important element in our path towards zero emissions by 2050”, highlighted Claudio Descalzi, CEO at ENI.
To know more please visit: ENI – Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi
Fuel can be produced by floating ‘nature-like leaves’ recreated in the laboratory.
The process that allows plants to convert sunlight into energy is paramount. All of us (or almost) studied chlorophyll photosynthesis at school. Researchers at University of Cambridge went further developing ‘artificial leaves’ able to produce clean fuels from sunlight and water. The natural structure of a leaf is unique and extremely effective, being both ultra-thin, flexible and resistant. Research has led to recreate these characteristics into an innovative device capable to float on any water surface, thanks to its lightness. Most recent tests have proven its extraordinary effectiveness in generating fuel from the light of the sun. The results of this scientific research have been recently published by the journal Nature and represent a very important step in the field of renewable energy. This new technology, developed under the umbrella of Professor Erwin Reisner’s research group on the footsteps of the electronic knowledge, could be used in waterways, ports or at sea to reduce dependance on fossil fuels and to low energy costs.
Professor Erwin Reisner pointed out: “Many renewable energy technologies, including solar fuel ones, can take up large amounts of space on land, so moving production to open water would mean that clean energy and land use are not competing with one another”.
To know more please visit:
- Nature >> Floating perovskite-BiVO4 devices for scalable solar fuel production, By Virgil Andrei – 17thAugust 2022
A new submarine microcosm recently found in the ice of the Antarctic.
Discovering new worlds has always fascinated human beings but you don’t always have to travel the universe to discover alien species. A scientific expedition has recently found a new underwater ‘planet’, while operating in New Zealand. Researchers discovered by chance a colony of small crab-like animals (5mm long) in the course of drilling to study the impact of global warming on an underground river.
Dr Craig Stevens, oceanographer at NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand) with a focus on environmental fluid mechanisms in extreme environments, was excited to unveil this hidden ecosystem that at first it seemed only imaginary on the camera screen. The fact was immediately considered of primary importance and a dedicated study is underway to define their DNA as well as the temperature, pression and other chemical characteristics of water that made life possible in the ice cap.These arthropods are extremophiles, notably living beings capable of surviving in harsh environments. We are at the gates of an unknown world. This is the whole impression of Huw Horgan, Professor in Geophysical Glaciology at Victoria University of Wellington.
By Maurice Abbati