Monday, November 02, 2009

Amazing Energy Potential In Synthetic Life Forms

UC Riverside researchers have developed an artificial "cellulosome" on the surface of yeast organisms, that may allow the yeast to break down cellulose for direct fermentation to alcohol.
A team of University of California, Riverside (UCR) researchers, led by Wilfred Chen, Professor of Chemical Engineering, has for the first time, constructed a synthetic cellulosome in yeast. According to Chen, this synthetic cellulosome is much more ethanol-tolerant than the bacteria in which these structures are commonly found.

Cellulosomes are self-assembled structures found on the the exterior of certain bacteria that allow the organisms to efficiently break down cellulose. The artificial cellulosome developed at UCR is highly modular and can be engineered to display ten or more different cellulases, the composition of which can be tuned to optimize hydrolysis of any feedstock.

Chen’s team is focusing on the conversion of non-food related materials like cellulosic biomass and wood wastes for conversion to bioethanol. According to the Chen, this construction is important because it could enable a more efficient on-step “consolidated bioprocessing” by maximizing the catalytic efficiency of cellulosic hydrolysis with simultaneous fermentation. _DomesticFuel
This is an intriguing and elegant approach to the problem of creating cellulosic fuels. Similar approaches using separate chemical catalysts are being developed, but the self-assembling cellulosomes may prove to be much more economical. The race is on between synthetic biology approaches and more traditional chemical approaches to bio-alcohols.
1. Innovation in biofuels in 2003, as represented by
global patenting activity measured in DWPI, was a
small area (only 341 patents) and was led by Japanese
companies (70% patented by Japanese companies in
top 13 patenting companies; 31% of patents were filed
in Japan).

2. Five years later, in 2008, patenting activity had risen by
550% to 1,878 patents.

3. In the latest period (January 2008 to April 2009) the
number of biofuel patents was 2,466. China has moved
in significantly (31% of patents were filed in China);
China shared top position with Japan (three companies)
in the Top 10 patenting companies. _BiofuelsDigest PDF

New patents for bio-energy production and for creating high value chemicals, foods, and plastics from biomass, are multiplying rapidly.  Anyone betting against biofuels at this stage is in danger of losing the bet.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts