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"BioEnergy for Bolivia": a student competition

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ConTechs is exploring the possibility of sponsoring a series of national and/or regional student competitions to be conducted on an annual or semi-annual basis.  Individual students or student teams would compete for recognition and receipt of a prize awarded to be awarded at an appropriate student venue (e.g., at CONEI-QAA conferences in Bolivia).  Each year, students will be presented with a relatively open-ended "ConTechs Challenge" that may require engineering analysis and study, design of a process, execution of a project, or creation of a business plan. 

The first ConTechs Challenges will focus on technologies, practices, or business opportunities that avoid the emission of pollutants like CO2, CH4, and "black carbon"/ soot that cause global warming.  For instance, one topic under active consideration for a business-plan/process-design competition explores "BioEnergy for Bolivia", where agricultural or animal wastes are digested and converted to combusible methane gas (for heat, light, and cooking) -- and/or non-food crops or other inedible biomass is used as raw material for the small-scale, nearly carbon-neutral production of liquid substitutes for hydrocarbon fuels.

As regards biofuels production (as distinct from methane digestion), the conversion of agricultural crops into transportation fuels cannot be justified where food for people is in short supply.  Indeed, the Bolivian government has taken a progressive stand against biofuels generated in just this context.  Our interest here is limited solely to exploring the potential of biofuels in situations where the plant raw material is inedible and diversion of crops away from food supply is not an issue.  

   

 

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This page was last updated on April 07, 2011.