A collaboration between the UK and Brazil has shown that waste sugar cane and wheat straw from agricultural processes can be made directly into valuable chemicals with an increase in value of 5000-fold.
Unlike fossil fuels, biofuels are renewable. However, producing biofuels is economically very challenging compared to fossil fuels.
Plants like sugarcane and wheat straw are abundantly found in Brazil and the UK respectively. This agricultural by-product is currently burnt rather than reused. The new breakthrough demonstrates that high-value chemicals, such as chemicals used in the food industry and precursors for human therapeutic drugs, can be produced directly from waste biomass in a single ‘one-pot’ process. The entire process can be comparatively cost effective.
The work is part of a UK-Brazil programme grant. In the UK an investment of over £2m in this project was awarded to The University of Manchester, The University of Warwick and UCL.
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