Waste not, want not: New process turns manure into fatty acids

December 26, 2021 |

In Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers demonstrated a new process for transforming a plentiful Wisconsin waste – the solid leftovers of cow manure – into fatty acids, energy-rich molecules that can be used to make biodiesel, green jet fuels, and a wide range of important chemicals.

Civil and environmental engineering graduate student Abel T. Ingle, with a team of other scientists, has uncovered a process that untangles the complex mass of leftover cow manure solids into a sugary mix that happens to be palatable to a certain set of microorganisms. In turn, these microbes use their own metabolism to make the sugars into the medium chain fatty acids.

The team’s next steps include exploiting the metabolic pathways in these bacteria to produce medium chain fatty acids in even greater amounts. And greater production of this valuable commodity could mean more money in dairy farmers’ pockets.

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Category: Research

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