Saskatoon Star Phoenix: Young Innovators: U of S advances new technology that turns waste into “green” fuel

“We are improving existing eco-friendly technologies to more efficiently produce the next generation of biofuels that can help lower greenhouse emissions,” said Sonil Nanda, a chemical and biological engineering research associate.

Nanda and his supervisor Ajay Dalai have successfully produced high-quality synthesis gas or “syngas,” a fuel gas mixture, using crop and forestry residues, food waste such as cooking oil, municipal solid waste, cattle manure, petroleum and petrochemical waste, and even scrap tires. They are among the very few in Canada who have succeeded.

Syngas — which consists of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane — could be a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels for generating heat, steam or power. It can also be used to create other by-products such as green diesel and hydrogen fuel cells for cars.

“Canada could be a leader in this kind of technology because it produces lots of the residual feedstock from the agriculture and forestry sectors that can be turned into syngas and its by-products,” said Dalai, a U of S Canada Research Chair of Bio-energy and Environmentally Friendly Chemical Processing.

In a recent collaboration with University of Waterloo engineering professor Janusz Kozinski, Nanda and Dalai worked with NASA to apply their technology to convert organic waste and wastewater into energy for possible use on the International Space Station and in long-term space missions.

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