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Learning English - Words in the News
12 September, 2007 - Published 12:36 GMT
New way to produce biofuels
Filling station

Scientists in Brazil say they have found a novel way of improving the production of biofuels. The researchers say that fermenting sugar cane in the presence of magnets boosted production by 17% and made the process faster. This report from Matt McGrath:

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Many countries around the world are trying to reduce their dependence on oil by emulating Brazil where bio ethanol provides about 30% of automobile fuel. But the process of making bio ethanol by fermenting sugar cane is time-consuming, inefficient and expensive.

Now a team of researchers at Brazil's State University of Campinas say they have found a way of improving the production process by using extremely low frequency magnetic waves. The team attached two electromagnetic generators to a vat containing a mixture of yeast and sugar cane. They found that the production of ethanol increased by 17% and it speeded up the time required to produce the fuel by two hours.

The scientists involved are unsure as to how exactly the process works but they believe that the magnets stimulate the yeast and make it work faster and more intensely. They believe their discovery can be easily implemented at an industrial scale.

Matt McGrath, BBC

Listen to the words

being like or copying what someone or something (here, Brazil) has done well

bio ethanol
a chemical which is a type of alcohol, mainly produced by the sugar fermentation process, although it can also be manufactured by the chemical process of reacting ethylene with steam

making something change chemically by the action of living substances, such as yeast or bacteria

low frequency magnetic waves
the disturbances which carry the energy produced using the power of magnets ('low frequency' refers to the fact that there is a relatively small number of these disturbances within a particular period)

refers to a device made of iron, with wire around it, that becomes magnetic when a changing current is passed through it

a vat
a large container used for mixing or storing liquids

type of fungus which is used, for example, to make bread swell and become light

speeded up the time required
less time was needed because the process happened faster

not certain

put into operation, made to happen

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