University of Utah engineers make biofuel breakthrough

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Chemical engineers at the University of Utah created a jet mixer that makes extracting algae and lipids a viable source of energy. 

According to researchers, each microorganism contains fatty acid molecules called lipids that can be used to power diesel engines. When those fatty acids are extracted, they create “biocrude,” which can be used as a fuel source.

Until recently, this type of energy extraction wasn’t energy efficient or economically viable.   

Engineers say they created a new type of mixing extractor that creates “localized turbulence” by creating jets of solvent into jets of algae before the solvent is drained and reused, reducing the energy required to extract the fuel source. 

In 2017, 5 percent of primary energy use in the country came from biomass, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The university believes this can help increase that usage.

The benefit of algae, they say, is that it can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and be grown in areas like ponds, raceways, and bioreactors.

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