Tag Archives: miscanthus

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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Mapping Grasslands for Biofuel Potential

USGS scientists have developed a new method for mapping grasslands that demonstrate high potential for growing biofuel crops with relatively little energy input and environmental impact.

The pioneering investigation used remote sensing data from satellites to identify detailed areas of the Greater Platte River Basin (most of Nebraska, parts of adjacent states) that are best suited for producing cellulosic (from the cell walls of plants) biofuel derived from hardy switchgrass, a native plant that grows wild or is easily cultivated. (more…)

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Fill ‘Er Up With Tobacco? Berkeley Lab-Led Team Explores New Path to Biofuels

*ARPA-E funded project aims to produce fuel molecules in plant leaves*

Mention biofuels and most people think of corn ethanol. Some may think of advanced biofuels from switchgrass or miscanthus. But tobacco? Not likely.

That could change. A team of scientists led by a researcher from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is exploring a way to produce gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from the iconic plant of the South. (more…)

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Testing the Water for Bioenergy Crops

*Water significant limiting factor in growing crops like switchgrass*

Energy researchers and environmental advocates are excited about the prospect of gaining more efficient large-scale biofuel production by using large grasses like miscanthus or switchgrass rather than corn.

They have investigated yields, land use, economics and more, but one key factor of agriculture has been overlooked: water.

“While we are looking for solutions for energy through bioenergy crops, dependence on water gets ignored, and water can be a significant limiting factor,” said Praveen Kumar, an environmental engineer and atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (more…)

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