Navigation Links
Researchers find potential key for unlocking biomass energy
Date:7/20/2011

LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, July 20, 2011Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have found a potential key for unlocking the energy potential from non-edible biomass materials such as corn leaves and stalks, or switch grass.

In a paper appearing in today's Journal of the American Chemical Society, Los Alamos researchers S. Gnanakaran, Giovanni Bellesia, and Paul Langan join Shishir Chundawat and Bruce Dale of Michigan State University, and collaborators from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center in describing a potential pretreatment method that can make plant cellulose five times more digestible by enzymes that convert it into ethanol, a useful biofuel.

Biomass is a desirable renewable energy source because fermentable sugars within the cellulose network of plant cells can be extracted with enzymes and then converted into ethanolif only it were so simple. One of the key difficulties in creating biofuels from plant matter is that the cellulose tends to orient itself into a sheet-like network of highly ordered, densely packed molecules. These sheets stack upon themselves and bond together very tightly due to interactions between hydrogen atomssomewhat like sheets of chicken wire stacked together and secured by loops of bailing wire. This stacking and bonding arrangement prevents enzymes from directly attacking most of the individual cellulose molecules and isolating the sugar chains within them.

Currently, ethanol can only be extracted in usable quantities if the biomass is pretreated with costly, potentially toxic chemicals in an energy-intensive process. Now, however, the research team has discovered a way to develop potentially cost-effective pretreatment methods that could make biomass an economically viable contender in the biofuels arena.

Using recent experimental data provided by their journal collaborators, Gnanakaran and his Los Alamos colleagues used state-of-the-art computational methods and molecular modeling to examine how cellulose changes structurally into an intermediate form that can be enzymatically attacked when pretreated with ammonia.

"Our modeling showed, and the experimental evidence confirmed, that the pretreatment reduced the strength of hydrogen bonds in the cellulosic network," said Gnanakaran. It was as if the bailing wire in the bound chicken-wire analogy had been removed and replaced more loosely with thread. This, in turn, significantly reduced the tightness of the cellulose network and left it more vulnerable to conversion into sugar by fungi-derived cellulolytic enzymes.

The end result is a potentially less costly and less energy intensive pretreatment regimen that makes the cellulose five times easier to attack.

"This work helps address some of the potential cost barriers related to using biomass for biofuels," Gnanakaran said.

In addition to LANL, the GLBRC, and Michigan State University, the paper included collaborators from American University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.


'/>"/>

Contact: James E. Rickman
jamesr@lanl.gov
505-665-9203
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers present new trends in HIV cure research, call for proactive outreach programs to prevent HIV transmission in injecting drug users, and demand increased commitments to improving maternal and child health
2. E-health records should play bigger role in patient safety initiatives, researchers advocate
3. John Theurer Cancer Center researchers shared 14 leading edge studies at recent ASCO meeting
4. Researchers provide means of monitoring cellular interactions
5. USC researchers explore the source of empathy in the brain
6. Penn vet researchers show lymphoma drug shrinks dog tumors, could lead to human treatment
7. Wood products part of winning carbon-emissions equation, researchers say
8. IRCM researchers uncover a new piece of the puzzle in the development of our nervous system
9. TUM researchers discover a new switch in resistance to plant diseases
10. BUSM researchers urge awareness of dietary iodine intake in postpartum Korean-American women
11. Researchers study pesticide pathways into the atmosphere
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , an ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical record ... have established a partnership to build an interface ... GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... MELBOURNE, Florida , April 17, 2017 ... security technology company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report ... Securities and Exchange Commission. ... Report on Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section ... well as on the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... N.Y. , April 11, 2017 ... fingerprints, but researchers at the New York University ... College of Engineering have found that partial similarities ... security systems used in mobile phones and other ... thought. The vulnerability lies in the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... ... make clinical trial sites and study participants truly unified. TrialKit, a native mobile ... 21 CFR Part 11) research studies entirely on mobile devices. With TrialKit, clinical ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... ... G-CON today announced that it has received Notices of ... 14/858,857 and 13/669,785 both entitled Modular, Self-Contained, Mobile Clean Room. The U.S. Patent ... G-CON’s R&D investments and validate the G-CON platform as a novel way to ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... ... device testing capabilities to encompass the full series of ISO 80369 standard test ... fittings for medical device and drug delivery systems. With this recent expansion, Whitehouse ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... Neurodevelopmental disorders ... range of overlapping clinical features. The advancement of targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) has ... research and testing. , However, designing a custom panel for disease research ...
Breaking Biology Technology: