Researchers Examine How to Turn Rapeseed Into Fuel

The Institute of Food Research wants to make use of the straw surplus in the U.K. by using it for biofuel.
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The Institute of Food Research wants to make use of the straw surplus in the U.K. by using it for biofuel.
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Photo Credit: oilseed © kviktor - Fotolia.com

Researchers at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) are studying rapeseed (or oilseed rape) to see if it can be used for biofuel, as well as to improve straw and the current processes used to grow it. 

In the UK, 12 million tons of straw is produced each year, which is used for bedding, compost and energy generation. However, there is always a great deal of surplus. To turn this surplus into biofuel, it would require a pretreatment called saccarification to make sugars more accessible to the enzymes that do the conversion. This product is then fermented into ethanol. 

At the current stage, oilseed rape can be produced for high disease resistance. The IFR is now working to develop a variety that is more ready for biofuel. The unused straw can also be used to produce platform chemicals.