Tag Archives: ethanol

Boosting Galactan Sugars Could Boost Biofuel Production

Collaboration at JBEI Identifies the First Enzyme Linked to Galactan Synthesis

Galactan is a polymer of galactose, a six-carbon sugar that can be readily fermented by yeast into ethanol and is a target of interest for researchers in advanced biofuels produced from cellulosic biomass. Now an international collaboration led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has identified the first enzyme capable of substantially boosting the amount of galactan in plant cell walls.

Unlike ethanol, advanced biofuels synthesized from the sugars in plant cells walls could replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuels on a gallon-for-gallon basis and be dropped into today’s engines and infrastructures with no modifications required. Also, adanced biofuels have the potential to be carbon-neutral, meaning they could be burned without adding excess carbon to the atmosphere. Among the key challenges to making advanced biofuels cost competitive is finding ways to maximize the amount of plant cell wall sugars that can be fermented into fuels. (more…)

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More Bang for the Biofuel Buck

Berkeley Lab Researchers Combine Old Fermentation Process For Making Explosives with New Chemical Catalysis to Boost Biofuel Production

A fermentation technique once used to make cordite, the explosive propellant that replaced gunpowder in bullets and artillery shells, may find an important new use in the production of advanced biofuels. With the addition of a metal catalyst, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have shown that the production of acetone, butanol and ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass could be selectively upgraded to the high volume production of gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.

Using the bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum, the Berkeley Lab researchers fermented the sugars found in biomass into the solvent acetone and the alcohols butanol and ethanol, collectively known as “ABE” products. They then catalyzed these low carbon number products with the transition metal palladium into higher-molecular-mass hydrocarbons that are possible precursors to the three major transportation fuel molecules. The specific type of fuel molecule produced – whether a precursor to gasoline, diesel or jet – was determined by the amount of time the ABE products resided with the palladium catalyst. (more…)

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Ethanol Mandate Not the Best Option

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Many people are willing to pay a premium for ethanol, but not enough to justify the government mandate for the corn-based fuel, a Michigan State University economist argues.

Soren Anderson studied the demand for ethanol, or E85, in the United States. He found that when ethanol prices rose 10 cents per gallon, demand for ethanol fell only 12 percent to 16 percent on average. (more…)

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Tiny Amounts of Alcohol Dramatically Extend A Worm’s Life, But Why?

Minuscule amounts of ethanol, the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, can more than double the life span of a tiny worm known as Caenorhabditis elegans, which is used frequently as a model in aging studies, UCLA biochemists report. The scientists said they find their discovery difficult to explain.

“This finding floored us — it’s shocking,” said Steven Clarke, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the senior author of the study, published Jan. 18 in the online journal PLoS ONE, a publication of the Public Library of Science. (more…)

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Sorghum a Sweet Treat for Zoo Animals

Scraps from sweet sorghum harvested for biofuel production enrich the diets of elephants, monkeys, parrots and other animals in Tucson’ Reid Park Zoo.

This holiday season, animals in Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo get to munch on a rare treat: scraps from the University of Arizona’s research into renewable energy sources.

Researchers from the UA’s department of agricultural and biosystems engineering, who are growing sweet sorghum for the production of environmentally friendly biofuel, have found a new way of disposing of the leftovers without throwing them away. (more…)

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Researchers Reap a Sweet and Sustainable Harvest

*Known as the sugarcane of the desert, sweet sorghum could be a sustainable and ecological future biofuel crop for Arizona.*

Researchers in the University of Arizona’s department of agricultural and biosystems engineering recently reaped the reward of six years of planning, testing and trials and harvested 40 acres of experimental sweet sorghum at the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Red Rock Agricultural Research Center.

Known as the sugarcane of the desert, sweet sorghum could be a sustainable and ecological future biofuel crop for Arizona – and there will be one, said Dennis Ray, a plant geneticist in the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: “There’s no doubt that we’re going to have biofuels in the future because no matter what, petroleum is a finite resource.” (more…)

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Researchers Find Potential Key for Unlocking Biomass Energy

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Pretreating non-edible biomass – corn leaves, stalks or switch grass – holds the keys for unlocking its energy potential and making it economically viable, according to a team of researchers led by Michigan State University.

Shishir Chundawat, a postdoctoral researcher, and Bruce Dale, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, of MSU led a team of researchers in identifying a potential pretreatment method that can make plant cellulose five times more digestible by enzymes that convert it into ethanol, a useful biofuel. The research was supported by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, a partnership between the University of Wisconsin and MSU and published in the current issue of Journal of the American Chemical Society. (more…)

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