Siberian scientists received bioethylene from oat husks

Novosibirsk and Biysk scientists have created a unique method of processing oat husk into ethylene, which is used for the production of polyethylene, plastics, rubber, polymer and composite materials. According to the scientists, the bioethylene will be able to replace the "oil" analogue, where the ethylene lines don’t reach. The development of Siberian scientists allows  to receive this popular chemical product from renewable sources and solve ecological problem of utilization of food industry waste.

"The idea of deep processing of oats was discussed long ago," Senior Researcher of the Institute of Problems of Chemical Energy Technologies of the SB RAS, to the correspondent of the WG said Ekaterina Skiba. - This is a massive type of waste which accumulates in grain processing plants in tons and it is difficult to dispose of, because during combustion, the molten oat husk clogs the kilns. First we received cellulose from the husks, which can be used in the production of paper and gunpowder. And then turned it into bioethanol. Specialists of the Novosibirsk Institute of Catalysis who work on obtaining bioethylene are interested in the results of research by Biysk chemists.

 - The technology of ethylene production from biomass is already used in the world - for example, in Brazil it is obtained from sugar cane, - a senior researcher of the Institute of Catalysis said.

GK Boreskov of the SB RAS Elena Ovchinnikova. "But our technology is more effective than the Brazilian one." Specific yield of ethylene from oat husks is higher than from cane. In addition, the cost price of oatmeal is very low, because the costs of cultivation of cereals are paid for by the products of its direct processing - "Hercules", flour, oatmeal muesli.

Only in the Altai region after the harvest annually remains more than 300 thousand tons of oatmeal. It is actually free raw material for bioethylene. According to scientists you can get more than twenty thousand tons per year of this popular chemical product from the waste oats collected in the Altai, in Siberia - up to 130 thousand tons.

- Today in Russia there is no deficit of ethylene, obtained from oil raw materials, - Elena Ovchinnikova emphasizes. - But there are problems of delivery of this gas to consumers – plants who use it in the production of polyethylene, composite materials. The cost of ethylene grows tens of times because of complex logistics.

That’s why, the task was set to create a technology for producing bio-ethylene at local facilities whiсh can be placed directly at consumer - plants. For example, in small production of composite materials based on multi-layer carbon nanotubes in polymer matrices.

Enterprises working on ethylene raw materials are interested in the introduction of such technology, but it demand large investments in the creation of an industrial plant.  According to Elena Ovchinnikova, its properties of bioethylene from oat husk is not different from the "oil " analogue. When producing polyethylene from it in laboratory conditions, the yield of the finished product was somewhat lower. But this problem can be solved by deeper purification of ethylene in industrial conditions," she said.

Russia produces about 3.5 million tons of "oil" ethylene annually. Maybe production of bio-ethylene from oat husks in this volume is a drop in the ocean. Possible production of  bioethylene from oat husk in this volume-a drop in the sea. Therefore, Siberian scientists are working on the technology of using other types of renewable raw materials. - Institute of Cytology and genetics in conjunction with the Central Botanical garden of SB RAS brought a special variety of high - cellulose grass - miscanthus, which doesn't require special care and grows for twenty years in one place without transplantation-just harvest. Two-meter miscanthus gives a large amount of biomass and is perfectly processed into bioethanol, - Ekaterina Skiba explained.