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  Geotimes - August 2007 - Fill ‘er up…with sugar?

Energy & Resources
Fill ‘er up…with sugar?

Traditionally, putting sugar in a gas tank is an act of treachery reserved only for one’s enemies. Now, researchers are putting a new useful spin on a mean old trick by suggesting that renewable, clean-burning sugar derivatives might someday help replace liquid fossil fuels such as gasoline.

Ethanol has traditionally been the biofuel of choice, but it has its problems — one of which is that it is not very efficient compared to gasoline and other petroleum-based fuels. So researchers are trying to make ethanol more efficient, or to find new, better fuels.

And that’s just what James Dumesic, a chemical engineer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and colleagues have done. They discovered a new method for obtaining combustible, energy-rich dimethylfuran (DMF) from fructose, a simple sugar found in plants ranging from parsnips to peaches.

Compared to ethanol, DMF is a fuel more energy-dense by 40 percent, with a higher boiling point, and is not soluble in water, Dumesic and colleagues wrote in an article published June 21 in Nature.

Ari Hartmann
Geotimes contributing writer

For more about the new research, read the original story posted online June 21, 2007, in the Geotimes Web Extra archive at:

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