Navigation Links
New process helps overcome obstacles to produce renewable fuels and chemicals
Date:8/25/2014

There's an old saying in the biofuels industry: "You can make anything from lignin except money." But now, a new study may pave the way to challenging that adage. The study from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrates a concept that provides opportunities for the successful conversion of lignin into a variety of renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials for a sustainable energy economy.

"Lignin Valorization Through Integrated Biological Funneling and Chemical Catalysis" was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The NREL-led research project explores an innovative method for upgrading lignin.

The process for converting glucose from biomass into fuels such as ethanol has been well established. However, plants also contain a significant amount of lignin up to 30 percent of their cell walls. Lignin is a heterogeneous aromatic polymer that plants use to strengthen cell walls, but it is typically considered a hindrance to cost-effectively obtaining carbohydrates, and residual lignin is often burned for process heat because it is difficult to depolymerize and upgrade into useful fuels or chemicals.

"Biorefineries that convert cellulosic biomass into liquid transportation fuels typically generate more lignin than necessary to power the operation," NREL Senior Engineer and a co-author of the study Gregg Beckham said. "Strategies that incorporate new approaches to transform the leftover lignin to more diverse and valuable products are desperately needed."

Although lignin depolymerization has been studied for nearly a century, the development of cost-effective upgrading processes for lignin valorization has been limited.

In nature, some microorganisms have figured out how to overcome the heterogeneity of lignin. "Rot" fungi and some bacteria are able to secrete powerful enzymes or chemical oxidants to break down lignin in plant cell walls, which produces a heterogeneous mixture of aromatic molecules. Given this large pool of aromatics present in nature, some bacteria have developed "funneling" pathways to uptake the resulting aromatic molecules and use them as a carbon and energy source.

This new study shows that developing biological conversion processes for one such lignin-utilizing organism may enable new routes to overcome the heterogeneity of lignin. And, that may enable a broader slate of molecules derived from lignocellulosic biomass.

"The conceptual approach we demonstrate can be applied to many different types of biomass feedstocks and combined with many different strategies for breaking down lignin, engineering the biological pathways to produce different intermediates, and catalytically upgrading the biologically-derived product to develop a larger range of valuable molecules derived from lignin," Beckham said. "It holds promise for a wide variety of industrial applications. While this is very exciting, certainly there remains a significant amount of technology development to make this process economically viable."

A patent application has been filed on this research and NREL's Technology Transfer Office will be working with researchers to identify potential licensees of the technology.

In addition, researchers from NREL participated in a recent review on lignin valorization published in Science Magazine. This review highlighted the broad potential for manufacturing value-added products from lignin, including low-cost carbon fiber, engineering plastics and thermoplastic elastomers, polymeric foams and membranes, and a variety of fuels and chemicals all currently sourced from petroleum.


'/>"/>

Contact: David Glickson
david.glickson@nrel.gov
303-275-4097
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers uncover novel process for creation of fuel and chemical compounds
2. Researchers simplify process to purify water using seed extracts
3. When temperatures get cold, newly-discovered process helps fruit flies cope
4. Manufacturing process developed for HIV microbicide
5. Biological signal processing: Body cells -- instrumentalists in a symphony orchestra
6. People with tinnitus process emotions differently from their peers, researchers report
7. Far north at risk unless Ontario adopts new, inclusive planning process: Report
8. Fuel cells utilised to produce electricity from process industry by-product hydrogen
9. Researchers identify regulation process of protein linked to bipolar disorder
10. Newly identified B-cell selection process adds to understanding of antibody diversity
11. Stem cells found to play restorative role when affecting brain signaling process
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/17/2016)... 2016  AIC announces that it has just released a new white paper authored ... scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161116/440463 ... ... ... Setting up a high performance computing or HPC system ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... ROCKVILLE, Md. , Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... clinical company developing therapeutics focused on the gut ... public offering of 25,000,000 shares of its common ... its common stock at a price to the ... gross proceeds to Synthetic Biologics from the offering, ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... 14, 2016  xG Technology, Inc. ("xG" or the ... wireless communications for use in challenging operating environments, announced ... 2016. Management will hold a conference call to discuss ... Eastern Time (details below). Key Recent Accomplishments ... million binding agreement to acquire Vislink Communication Systems. The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/9/2016)... ALBANY, New York , December 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Research states that the top five players in the  ... of 62.7% in the overall market in 2015. Players ... and Perkin Elmer have remained dominant in the global ... persistent efforts to ensure product innovation. Product upgrades and ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: CO ) ("CCBC" ... of cord blood collection, laboratory testing, hematopoietic stem cell processing, ... its 2016 Annual General Meeting, which was held on December ... . At the Annual General Meeting, shareholders ... LLP as the independent auditors of the Company for the ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... According to a new market research report ... Reagent Equipment), Application (Research, PCR, Gene, DNA, NGS, Diagnostic, RNAI), End ... the global market is expected to reach USD 2.20 Billion by ... 10.6% during the forecast period. Continue ... ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... report analyzes the worldwide markets for Biostimulants in US$ by ... Extract Based, and Others. The report also analyzes the Global ... Crops, and Others. The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for ... , Europe , Asia-Pacific ... of World. Annual estimates and forecasts are provided for the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: