Undated, LA(KSLA)- With gas prices soaring, now is a great time to come up with newer, cheaper ways to produce fuel. That's exactly what a group of University of Arkansas Chemical Engineering students is doing.
They are on the forefront of renewable energy and they are using a product that's virtually abundant: Algae.
At the University of Arkansas Bell Engineering Building, there is a contraption that works pretty simple: You put the algae in it and three days later you have butanol.
They are currently the only ones in the country turning algae into butanol.
The whole process starts with a leaf shredder and ends with a miniature computer screen. But the bottom line is it's creating renewable energy and that's butanol.
The invention was created by eight chemical engineering students.
The college is hoping that their unit will produce a couple hundred gallons a week and farmers can harvest their own and use it on their own land.
What's great about algae is that it's located in almost any natural water source, from oceans to rivers, and it's cheap and easy to reproduce. It would be cool to see troughs being built for butanol.
This machine costs about five thousand dollars and it works in steps.
First, the algae goes into shredder and then to the hydraulics tank.
Second, the tank is heated up, the acids take out the sugars and then it's ferment for two days and then, it produces butanol.
The whole process is programmed via computer and when it's all done, the butanol can literally be taken out and put right into your car.