Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Microbial Energy: Waiting for Q?

Massachusetts company Qteros has patented the Q Microbe System, based upon the "Q organism" (Clostridium phytofermentans). This anaerobic organism is capable of hydrolysing cellulose AND fermenting the resulting simple sugars into alcohol -- in one step. If Qteros can achieve high yields with the Q Microbe System, they should have a leg up on competitors.
Specific advantages of this patented technology include, the natural production of all enzymes required to digest biomass into its component sugars, the ability to ferment polymeric forms of sugar resulting in decreased pretreatment costs and more efficient ethanol production, the highly efficient fermentation of all major sugars present in biomass, and the production of ethanol as the primary product of the microorganism’s metabolism.

Qteros’ CBP system not only enables the production of fuel-grade cellulosic ethanol in a uniquely streamlined production process, it also results in higher ethanol yields from a given amount of biomass material compared to other methods. To date, the Q Microbe™ has performed efficiently across a broad range of feedstocks that include, wheat straw, sugar cane bagasse, energy crops such as switchgrass, and agricultural residues such as corn stover, cob, and fibre.

All of these advantages improve the economics of ethanol production by reducing capital and operating costs, making this microorganism ideally suited for large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol from a wide variety of non-food plant materials.

Additionally, Qteros scientists and engineers continue to improve the performance of the microorganism through genetic modification and process optimization. _Bioenergy

In other microbial energy news: Multiple reasons why we are unlikely to see price-competitive algal fuels much before 2020.

Algal fuels companies are not suffering from a lack of investment or a shortage of intelligent and creative researchers. What they may be suffering from is a lack of coherent vision. The enterprise is definitely suffering from at least one faulty premise: the idea that reducing carbon dioxide output is a top justification for development of microbial fuels.

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