us have a sweet tooth and the occasional craving for chocolate. Now
research from the University of Birmingham in the UK suggests that
by indulging our love of sweet things, we could be contributing to
a new source of renewable energy.
Hydrogen is one of the cleanest fuels available and when used to
power a fuel cell, the only by-product is water. Scientists at the
University’s School of Biosciences have now found a way to
extract hydrogen from confectionary waste – a process that
could have a major impact on the future handling of food waste and
its potential as a supplier of renewable energy.
Using E. coli bacteria, identified by the researchers
as having the right sugar-consuming, hydrogen-generating
properties, a fermenter is set up containing the bacteria along
with the caramel-like waste product and a gas such as nitrogen.
Under these conditions the E. coli ferments the sugars,
generating a range of organic acids. To alleviate this toxicity in
their environment they convert formic acid to hydrogen.
The hydrogen generates clean electricity via a fuel cell.
It’s easy to see the potential of this exciting new research.
Food factories could use their own product waste to generate energy
for the manufacturing process; they might even be able to fuel
their own vehicles from the hydrogen generated in this way.
And it’s a technology that could be adapted for use with
most forms of food waste, making it internationally applicable.
So now we can all feel good about eating that extra chocolate
bar – we might just be saving the planet!
- GVs Confectionery manufacture
- GVs Chocolate products on supermarket shelves- GVs Laboratory
experiment producing hydrogen from caramel waste
- GVs Fuel Cell car on road and Hydrogen re-fuelling
- Professor Lynne Macaskie, School of Biosciences, University of
- Dr David Penfold, School of Biosciences, University of
- Wolfgang Skibar, Project Manager, C-Tech Innovation Ltd
Duration – Circa 04:30 (loose news edit)