Daniell said no company in the world can produce cellulosic ethanol ethanol that comes from wood or the non-edible parts of plants.
Depending on the waste product used, a specific combination or "cocktail" of more than 10 enzymes is needed to change the biomass into sugar and eventually ethanol. Orange peels need more of the pectinase enzyme, while wood waste requires more of the xylanase enzyme. All of the enzymes Daniell's team uses are found in nature, created by a range of microbial species, including bacteria and fungi.
Daniell's team cloned genes from wood-rotting fungi or bacteria and produced enzymes in tobacco plants. Producing these enzymes in tobacco instead of manufacturing synthetic versions could reduce the cost of production by a thousand times, which should significantly reduce the cost of making ethanol, Daniell said.
Tobacco was chosen as an ideal system for enzyme production for several reasons. It is not a food crop, it produces large amounts of energy per acre and an alternate use could potentially decrease its use for smoking.
|Contact: Chad Binette|
University of Central Florida