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Powering vehicles with potato starch

A four-year European project will see leading institutions from across the continent work on developing biorenewable alternatives for the energy and chemical industries.

The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) based at the University of York, England, is one of nine involved in the Porous4App project, being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

A team from York is trailing an innovative technology which converts starch or pectin from plants into a carbon material that could be used for making car batteries.

“The first step in our conversion uses expansion technologies, then we freeze dry the material before converting it into a carbon material using a furnace. We are investigating using this as a catalyst for chemical processes and to make batteries for electric vehicles,” said Duncan Macquarrie of the University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence.

This is one of the processes that will be put to the test during the project. The pan European initiative will examine ways the selected material can be used in storing energy for electric vehicles and by the chemicals industry as a clean catalyst.

“Fundamentally, this project is about replacing a fossil resource, with a more sustainable, biorenewable alternative. “What is exciting, is that by bringing together the nine partners, we are able to hone the technology from research level right through to a scaled-up production process for industrial testing,” added David Amantia, Principal Investigator for the project from Leitat, Spain. 


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