BioHystScienza per Amore

Fuel from green

Second-generation biofuels and the conflict between food and energy

elettricitaCurrently, the global biofuels industry uses up huge quantities of grain, from which it makes much more fuel than from straws or prunings. Agricultural residues, in fact, need to be suitably modified so that they may be attacked by microorganisms that turn them into methane or ethanol. This process is called pretreatment and the absence of mature pretreatment technologies at an industrial level has made it impossible to date to produce significant volumes of second-generation fuels. This is why while 30% of humanity is suffering from malnutrition every year more than 100 million tons of grain is being burned to produce biofuels.

The biofuels issue brings with it the phenomenon of Land Grabbing. Hoarding land in order to allocate it to energy crops is a plague which for many areas has been aggravating the already difficult conditions of the rural communities. The best soils are transformed into endless plantations for biofuel production at the expense of those who wish to get from the earth proper nourishment and a fair income.

Hyst Biofuels

Hyst lends itself to effectively resolving the conflict between energy needs and food needs, because it permits the use of agricultural residues simultaneously for food and energy. Hyst machines are in fact used to pretreat agricultural residues which produce biofuels without touching the grains.
In fact, by processing with the Hyst system the same plant raw material it is possible to get different products: those that do not contain enough nutrients, therefore not used as food, can be used to produce energy. For example, after extracting from a cereal straw most of the nutrients to produce feed, with the Hyst process it is possible to make the best use of the remaining quantity to produce biogas. This way from a ton of straw we can get 300 kg of feed and fuel for our car to travel over 3200 kilometers!

To understand the importance of this result we need only to consider that a ton of corn grown for energy purposes, and therefore taken from normal food purposes, can produce the fuel needed to travel only 1800 km.
How much would Hyst fuel cost? Less than 0.6 € per liter of gasoline equivalent1, which means less than the current industrial cost of gasoline and diesel2!
Dr. Vito Pignatelli, Coordinator of Technologies, Biomass and Bio-Energy for ENEA (Italian national agency that operates in the energy, environment and new technology sectors to support competitiveness and sustainable development policies) defined Hyst a cutting edge example of industrial research in the field of energy from biomass.

1) A liter of gasoline has the same energy content of 0.9 m3 of biomethane.
2) According to a study carried out at the Department of Energy Engineering of ‘La Sapienza’
University of Rome (DIAEE).