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EERC at UND inks deal with Canadian company

UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center has signed a deal with Syntec Biofuel of Vancouver, B.C., to convert wood chips, garbage and other organic material into butanol.

UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center has signed a deal with Syntec Biofuel of Vancouver, B.C., to convert wood chips, garbage and other organic material into butanol.

Each organization brings its own technology to the table; Syntec with its catalysts and the EERC with its ability to use a wider variety of organic material, such as grass and sticks.

Butanol is a kind of alcohol like ethanol, but its characteristics are closer to gasoline, to the point that it's been used in certain internal combustion engines without blending.

Typically, alcohol production involves fermentation, but Syntec's process is different. As described by its Web site SyntecBiofuel.com, the company's technology converts organic material to gas and uses a special catalyst to convert the gas into alcohol.

Syntec chief executive Michael Jackson said in a statement that EERC's is unique because it can gasify and liquefy nonfood material, complementing Syntec's own process.

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Nonfood material, agricultural waste, for example, is cheaper than corn, the usual ingredient in ethanol.

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