Stanford scientists discover new path to ethanol production

By Staff Report | July 10, 2017

Scientists from Stanford have discovered a process they say could produce ethanol without corn or crops.

“One of our long-range goals is to produce renewable ethanol in a way that doesn’t impact the global food supply” said Thomas Jaramillo, associate professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, in a statement.

The new process uses three basic components: water, carbon dioxide and electricity, delivered through a copper catalyst. The process can produce ethanol, but also creates 15 other compounds that would be expensive to separate, according to Stanford. So scientists are studying catalysts to understand how they work and how to create the ethanol with no byproducts.

“Ultimately, the Stanford team would like to develop a technology capable of selectively producing carbon-neutral fuels and chemicals at an industrial scale,” said Mark Shwartz, Stanford Precourt Institute of Energy public information officer, in a statement.