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Low-Carbon Biofuels Combat Climate Change and Health Risks

The UMA is engaged in a global research initiative alongside the Future Power Systems Group at the University of Birmingham (UK). The focus of the study is on exploring methods to minimize pollutant emissions from vehicles while maintaining optimal engine performance.

The UMA participates in an international study with the Future Power Systems Group of the University of Birmingham (UK) that investigates how to reduce pollutant emissions from vehicles without affecting engine performance. Specifically, the study has analyzed the use of oxygenated biofuels blended with diesel in a 20% volume concentration, noting a reduction in the production of soot –black smoke emitted by cars– by over 90%. Image Credit: University of Malaga

In particular, the research has scrutinized the efficacy of incorporating oxygenated biofuels into diesel at a 20% volume concentration. The findings reveal a remarkable decrease of over 90% in the generation of soot, the black smoke emitted by vehicles. The outcomes of this investigation have been published in the Fuel scientific journal.

The research conducted at the University of Malaga was led by Professor Francisco Javier Martos from the School of Industrial Engineering. As a researcher specializing in the Area of Thermal Machines and Engines, Professor Martos focused on analyzing soot nanoparticles emitted by engines, particularly those fueled by various biofuels.

The biofuels under scrutiny included bio-alcohols such as butanol, pentanol, and cyclopentanol, as well as bio-ketones, including cyclopentanone. The experiments were conducted at the Central Research Support Services of the UMA (SCAI) utilizing High-Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HR-TEM).

Low Carbon Biomass Residues

These biofuels are notable for their production from waste derived from residual biomass, including waste oils, algae, agricultural and forestry residues, or sewage, and for their low carbon content.

Our research shows that the biofuels studied, which we obtained in the laboratory, apart from producing very little soot, behave in the engine similarly to the fuel of any gas station, which means that there would be no need to make changes for it to work normally.

Francisco Javier Martos, Professor, School of Industrial Engineering, University of Malaga

Environmental and Public Health Issues

According to the UMA researcher, this study opens up a new avenue that has the potential to decrease soot emissions from thermal engines, thereby mitigating the corresponding environmental and public health concerns.

Soot particles emitted by engines are expelled into the environment and remain suspended in the air, affecting the climate, since they increase the greenhouse effect, and public health, because they do not settle to the ground, so they are very likely to be inhaled by living beings.

Francisco Javier Martos, Professor, School of Industrial Engineering, University of Malaga

The current study “opens the door to the use of non-petroleum fuels that could reduce the emission of pollutants in vehicles.” The international scientific team, already having agreements with certain trademarks, considers achieving commercialization as a long-term goal.

Journal Reference:

Doustdar, O., et al. (2024). The significance of low carbon bio-alcohols and bio-ketones fuels for clean propulsion systems. Fuel.


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