Navigation Links
New technique improves efficiency of biofuel production

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a more efficient technique for producing biofuels from woody plants that significantly reduces the waste that results from conventional biofuel production techniques. The technique is a significant step toward creating a commercially viable new source of biofuels.

"This technique makes the process more efficient and less expensive," says Dr. Ratna Sharma-Shivappa, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State and co-author of the research. "The technique could open the door to making lignin-rich plant matter a commercially viable feedstock for biofuels, curtailing biofuel's reliance on staple food crops."

Traditionally, to make ethanol, butanol or other biofuels, producers have used corn, beets or other plant matter that is high in starches or simple sugars. However, since those crops are also significant staple foods, biofuels are competing with people for those crops.

However, other forms of biomass such as switchgrass or inedible corn stalks can also be used to make biofuels. But these other crops pose their own problem: their energy potential is locked away inside the plant's lignin the woody, protective material that provides each plant's structural support. Breaking down that lignin to reach the plant's component carbohydrates is an essential first step toward making biofuels.

At present, researchers exploring how to create biofuels from this so-called "woody" material treat the plant matter with harsh chemicals that break it down into a carbohydrate-rich substance and a liquid waste stream. These carbohydrates are then exposed to enzymes that turn the carbohydrates into sugars that can be fermented to make ethanol or butanol.

This technique often results in a significant portion of the plant's carbohydrates being siphoned off with the liquid waste stream. Researchers must either incorporate additional processes to retrieve those carbohydrates, or lose them altogether.

But now researchers from NC State have developed a new way to free the carbohydrates from the lignin. By exposing the plant matter to gaseous ozone, with very little moisture, they are able to produce a carbohydrate-rich solid with no solid or liquid waste.

"This is more efficient because it degrades the lignin very effectively and there is little or no loss of the plant's carbohydrates," Sharma-Shivappa says. "The solid can then go directly to the enzymes to produce the sugars necessary for biofuel production."

Sharma notes that the process itself is more expensive than using a bath of harsh chemicals to free the carbohydrates, but is ultimately more cost-effective because it makes more efficient use of the plant matter.

The researchers have recently received a grant from the Center for Bioenergy Research and Development to fine-tune the process for use with switchgrass and miscanthus grass. "Our eventual goal is to use this technique for any type of feedstock, to produce any biofuel or biochemical that can use these sugars," Sharma-Shivappa says.


Contact: Matt Shipman
North Carolina State University

Related biology news :

1. New technique can be breakthrough for early cancer diagnosis
2. University of Leicester scientists discover technique to help friendly bacteria
3. New technique reveals subtle force-induced changes in biomolecules conformation
4. New magnetic separation technique might detect multiple pathogens at once
5. New technique captures chemical reactions in a single living cell at unprecedented resolution
6. Software Techniques Inc. Selects M2SYS Fingerprint Software to Meet Continuous Growth and Demand for Desktop Biometric Time & Attendance Solutions
7. New X-ray technique targets terrorists and tumors
8. Technique controls nanoparticle size, makes large numbers
9. New technique could dramatically lower costs of DNA sequencing
10. New techniques create butanol
11. New radar satellite technique sheds light on ocean current dynamics
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New technique improves efficiency of biofuel production
(Date:10/4/2017)... -- GCE Solutions, a global clinical research organization (CRO), announces the launch ... October 4, 2017. Shadow is designed to assist medical writers and ... of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in meeting the requirements for ... ... ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... July 20, 2017 Delta (NYSE: DAL ) customers ... Delta aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass ... is now integrated into the boarding process to allow eligible Delta ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... (NYSE: IBM ) is introducing several innovative partner startups ... collaboration between startups and global businesses, taking place in ... nine startups will showcase the solutions they have built with ... France is one of the ... percent increase in the number of startups created between 2012 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal ... the treatment of osteosarcoma. SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights that give ... Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob ... at his local San Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem ... CA and had 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 SomaGenics ... from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), expected ... for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single cells ... Program highlights the need to accelerate development of approaches ... "New techniques for measuring levels ...
Breaking Biology Technology: