Both cleaner to burn and renewable, BGU focuses on basic and applied research into alternative fuels. With support from both research grants and industry, BGU has been studying biomass, gasification, photo catalysis, and liquid fuels becoming leaders in the field and home to some of the foremost alternative fuels researchers.
The high temperatures and solar irradiance that abound year round, availability of land and brackish or sea water make deserts and drylands suitable locations for producing biomass feedstock for biofuels production. The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research is applying state of the art methods in cell and molecular biology and genomics to adapt promising plant and algae species to high productivity under the stressful desert conditions. Furthermore we maintain a range of research activities for optimizing biomass production under dryland conditions, such as production of the halophyte Salicornia for food or biofuels, or optimizing irrigation regimes for agricultural production using saline water. Production of biofuels from microalgae is a central research aim at the Landau Family Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory (MBL) which is developing the biotechnology involved in mass production of microalgae for various commercial purposes.
Synthetic gas is carbon-neutral and acts as a feedstock for many reactions for the direct production of liquid fuels. BGU researchers have conducted extensive research on creating syngas.
The radical rethinking of fuel as we know it has long been the expertise of BGU researchers at the 15-year-old Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process Development. Dedicated to the implementation of fundamental and applied aspects of heterogeneous catalysis to develop solutions to environmental and renewable fuel challenges, the Center has extensive support from industry. The Blechner Center is a partner in the newly established Israeli Center of Excellence on Solar Liquids, focused on the development of liquid fuels from a variety of feedstocks.
One of the key components in improving alternative fuels is to build better catalysts. BGU researchers are experimenting with constructing visible-light driven photocatalytic systems at the Nanoscale level.