Floudas Team Shows Aquatic Weed Can Be Competitive Biofuel Feedstock
Research led by Christodoulos Floudas, Stephen C. Macaleer ’63 Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, has demonstrated that duckweed, an aquatic plant that floats on or near the surface of still or slow-moving freshwater, is ideal as a raw material for biofuel production. It grows fast, thrives in wastewater that has no other use, does not impact the food supply and can be harvested more easily than algae and other aquatic plants. A paper published recently in the journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, a collaboration between Floudas’ group at Princeton, and that of Xin Xiao at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describes four scenarios for duckweed refineries that use proven existing technology to produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene. The results show that small-scale duckweed refineries could produce cost-competitive fuel when the price of oil reaches $100 per barrel, and larger-scale duckweed refineries would be cost-competitive at an oil price of $72 per barrel. For more information, see the press release issued by the American Chemical Society.