350401 Using Landfill Waste for Direct Conversion to Butanol

Monday, November 4, 2013
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton)
Aundria Eoff, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR and Jamie A. Hestekin, Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

The demand for a reliable alternative fuel source rises every day as more nonrenewable fuels are exhausted.  Although ethanol has been a common gasoline alternative, research has found that butanol cannot only serve as a direct replacement for gasoline, but also provide a higher energy density, better mixing properties, and favorable emissions1. Butanol sources range from food, such as corn, sugar beets, to crops, such as sugar cane, corn stalks, to algae.  This research was conducted to not only minimize the reliance of nonrenewable fuel sources, but to also minimize the amount of food waste deposited into landfills.  

In 2009, Americans alone produced 243 million tons of municipal solid waste   In order to reduce landfill space, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated the use of part of the wastes for energy recovery and combustion.  The EPA also encourages recycling and composting to reduce populating landfill space.  The EPA reports that after recycling and combustion, 54.3 percent of Americans waste end up in  This waste in time will continue to accumulate until there is not enough space allotted for proper waste disposal.  Therefore, it is pragmatic to take advantage of this waste, and experiment with waste and convert it into a fuel source.  The constant need for fuel will never slack, and neither will the constant influx of landfill waste. 

Being that one billion dollars is spent on disposing of food waste annually, this money can be utilized to convert this food to fuel rather than allowing it to waste away in a landfill3.  This research extracted the sugars in fruits to confirm that food waste is a viable alternative fuel source, in the form of butanol.  Although the fruit to butanol conversion was not elevated, further research regarding the identification and isolation of certain organic acids to optimize butanol production could be performed.


  1. Kasling, J., Chou H. (2008). Metabolic engineering delivers next-generation biofuels. Nature Journal.  26: 298-299.
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2011).  Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).  Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/
  3. Society of St. Andrew.  (2013).  America’s Premier Food Rescue and Distribution Ministry.  

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