November 19, 2016 Chemistry

Preliminary Chemistry
Assessment Task 1
Research Task- Report Writing

Around Australia there are many scientists that work in different diverse fields of science. For many years that have passed lots of scientist that can be either famous or non famous work in different fields to experiment and research to discover new things for the benefits of us humans to make our life simpler.

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As the world is running out of oil the main supply to drive transport and Australia going through an economic crisis, many scientists have tried and examine many fuels to find a replacement for petrol that would have to be environmentally friendly meaning that it should not contribute any greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere. The solution to that was research had to be done to find an environmentally friendly fuel suitable for transport usage.

The scientist that I have chosen is Ben Hankamer that works in the biofuels field. Ben Hankamer studied in the Institute of Molecular Bioscience (IMB), at the University of Queensland. He then became the leader of IMB (Institute for Molecular Bioscience) where his aim was to focus on developing a cleaner fuel system. His is known for his research as a biochemist and protein chemist for producing hydrogen fuel from water.

Biofuels are used not just in Australia but throughout the world. Biofuel were produced to replace petroleum gas as petrol prices were increasing throughout the world, scientists then started to research and experiment to make a new fuel that would make transport that requires petrol run at a lower cost so people can afford petrol.

There are three generations of biofuels. The first generation of biofuels were made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil or animal fats using conventional technology. The second generation of biofuels were made to reduce the use of making the fuel out of non food crops these included waste biomass, the stalks of wheat, corn, wood, and special energy. The third generation of biofuels were made from algae fuel. Algae are low in cost to grow and produce for the third generation of biofuels. It??™s cheaper to produce then all the other crops that would be needed for the first and second generation of biofuels.

Ben Hankamer was known for producing hydrogen fuel from water to do so he and the group that he lead in (IBM) based their work on a research that was firstly Tasios Melis work where he showed that usually when you have algae growing they absorb sunlight from solar energy where they capture to split water in them to protons and electrons where it then combines with carbon dioxide (CO2) which makes all the bio-molecules in the cell.

By using Tasios Melis work that he had done, the equipment Ben Hankamer had used to make his research successful was using a gas chromatograph, light and electron microscopes. He saw two processes to find hydrogen using algae. One was where you store protons and electrons that are split from water and store them to become starch; he used the starch and other bio-molecules to convert it to hydrogen. By using the gas chromatograph it separated the bio-molecules that were in the algae and by using the light and electron microscopes Ben could see every detail of the algae and do further research.

Using algae to make hydrogen, algae have developed to convert protons and electrons back to hydrogen this process makes the algae stay alive and produce. Algae are cheap to produce and like other plants it absorbs sunlight and carbon dioxide and a little bit of algae can produce a whole heap of hydrogen.

As mention earlier as the worlds oil rate is decreasing the demand to find a new fuel to replace the oil which is made into petroleum which is then made into gasoline or petrol uses for transport increases. Many scientists have suggested using biofuels as its better then the usage of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are non renewable sources as they take a lot of years to form. Burning fossil fuels give out carbon dioxide which is one of the greenhouse gases that leads to global warming.

According to scientist the positive signs of using biofuels are that they are safer to use because they are renewable sources as they are being produce by agricultural crops that can be grown which costs really low eg: algae, wheat, corn etc. It does not contribute to global warming as it doesn??™t produce a lot of carbon dioxide because the plants absorb the carbon dioxide back and it emits less pollution then any other fuel and it makes us less relying on foreign countries for their oil.

Although there are positive signs there are negative signs. Biofuels are easy to use but when people have gasoline or ethanol in the car they will have trouble filling their cars up with biofuels as they will need to change their cars to ???flex-fuel??? where it can then run on fuel which could cost a lot.

Another point is that would there be enough land for crops to be grown to support biofuels if the crops were wheat and corn etc. But on the other hand if biofuels were made out of algae, algae can be grown in water which now many scientists are researching more about algae. There are also arguments where foods vs. fuel because many people think that food that can be eaten are used to convert into fuel which arguments arises.

In conclusion I agree that biofuels should be used instead of petroleum petrol because it??™s safer and less harmful to the environment and lost in cost to produce. By using biofuels we will become less depended on using fossil fuel and oil from foreign countries.

The diagram above is a simple showing of a biofuel cycle.




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