Embrace Innovation in Biofuel Research with an Electronic Laboratory Notebook


biofuel research
The days of fossil fuels are numbered. Firms are investing heavily in biofuel research aimed at developing more efficient biofuel production processes.
Image source: Flickr user Steve Snodgrass

I remember the day I first learned about “peak oil.” I was in a graduate business ethics class where we discussed prominent ethics cases in the business world. I had never before heard the term peak oil, which only goes to illustrate the finite nature of the fossil fuel production processes we use to power the world. The peak oil theory suggests that global oil production will reach a maximum rate, after which production will perpetually decline. Whether or not you believe we will reach peak oil in the near future, it is probably somewhat of a political issue. Regardless, even major oil and gas companies are investing heavily in biofuel research aimed at overcoming our dependence on fossil fuels and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Entire nations are investing in sustainable agriculture plans that aim to utilize renewable biomass supply chains to power their country’s electric grid.

Generating biofuels isn’t easy. The chemical properties of the biomass used to generate biofuels aren’t optimal for fuel production. Poor fuel stability, viscosity and energy inefficiency plague the biofuel production process. As a result, biofuel research relies heavily on hard chemistry to develop more efficient production processes. As firms and nations invest millions of dollars in optimizing biofuel production, labs involved in biofuel research should consider implementing an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) to help promote efficient research practices. Let’s take a look at how an ELN can help your lab pursue biofuel innovation:

Promote collaboration across disciplines

A key feature of biofuel research is multidisciplinary collaboration. Scientists involved in biofuel research come from diverse backgrounds and represent broad industry involvement. An ELN can help promote and support collaboration by providing a central digital location to deposit information. Any user with a web browser can access the designated project to review data, correspondences and annotations. Users aren’t constrained by time zones and may access the ELN in real-time at their location. The interface is simple and designed so that users across disciplines can easily learn and utilize the system.

Integrated chemistry-specific features provide ease of use for chemists

Scientists involved in biofuel research will find integrated chemistry functions very helpful for documenting experiments. The ELN allows users to design and record chemical structures and reactions directly in the notebook. Users can upload and attach SD files directly to notebook entries to promote seamless integration with current laboratory practices and documentation methods. Complex features like multi-step synthesis and parallel chemistry options will appeal to chemists interested in recording all of their work in one place.

Efficiency-boosting options make record-keeping comprehensive

An ELN is more than just a digital location in which to keep your experiment notes. An ELN can help save users time and energy by providing comprehensive efficiency features. Experiment cloning allows users to insert a prior experiment rather than rewriting the entire protocol. Users can also create and save and frequently-used templates and protocols for quick access and notebook entry. The notebook serves as a digital library for projects so that all entries can be designated to a project and remain easily searchable.

An ELN can help biofuel research labs investigate innovative production techniques. Visit the Accelrys website to learn more about how the comprehensive features of the Accelrys Notebook can help drive innovation in your lab.

2 thoughts on “Embrace Innovation in Biofuel Research with an Electronic Laboratory Notebook

  1. Biofuel development is currently in process of using agriculture and algae as a source for new fuel sources. However, I would think that some corporations would be concerned about sharing research among companies that compete. There would perhaps need to be some contractual agreement between these companies.

  2. I agree. Collaborations can be tricky in such a competitive field. One great feature of an ELN is the ability to segment projects so that only designated collaborators have access to relevant notebook entries. Furthermore, a digital record provides a strong project history that can support authorship claims.

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