Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Environment-Enhancing Energy - Third Generation Biofuel

Presented by Dr. Yuanhui Zhang of UI Agricultural & Biological Engineering

January 21, 2010

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Energy consumption and environment has been so far contradictory to each other and have difficulty in coexistence. Some extreme examples has been on the path of rapid development, and in many ways self destructive. How can we continue to improve human living conditions with limited energy sources? How can we protect our environment while sustain our economy? How can we handle the magnitude and the multitude of these challenges? Are you optimistic, or pessimistic, about our future? In this presentation, Professor Zhang offers his perspectives, based on his own research, on the issues of energy and environment, and their implications to our economic development and sustainability. He conducts research in Environment-Enhancing Energy, which first converts organic solids in animal, human and food wastes into biocrude oil via a hydrothermal process (HTP); Then grows fast-growing algae in the HTP wastewaters and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; Finally, the algae biomass is fed back to the HTP, as a sole feedstock or as an additive, to be converted into additional biocrude oil. This synergistic process is extremely advantageous because it simultaneously produces energy and improves environment by improving water quality, sequestering carbon dioxide, and by no less importance, having the potential to meet the entire national fuel need.

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