December 22 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: Beyond Rating: 2
2008 was a big year for science breakthroughs on next generation bioenergy solutions. And that is a good thing for the future of energy.
The modern economy runs on ancient bioenergy. Coal is ancient biomass, oil is likely ancient microbes.
So why not tap the power of biology to ‘grow energy’ resources.
Forget about corn ethanol, the future taps the power of microorganisms not plants.
Next generation solutions such as algae and bacteria ‘eat’ carbon to produce biofuels, or use sunlight to produce hydrogen. Looking beyond 2015, we can imagine real breakthroughs in the field of Synthetic Biology that could change how we look at energy and carbon solutions.
List of Bioenergy Science Breakthroughs in 2008
Microbes source for Biofuels Discovered
University of Texas at Austin researchers led by Professor R. Malcolm Brown Jr. and Dr. David Nobles Jr. have created a microbe (cyanobacteria) that secrets glucose and sucrose that can be used in production of cellulosic ethanol.
Advancing Synthetic Biology and genome assembly
Craig Venter believes we can genetically engineer microbes to produce energy. His team continues to advance the notion of synthetic biology and genome assembly
UCLA researchers modify E coli to produce biofuels
UCLA researchers have engineered a synthetic biological pathway inside Ecoli bacteria to produce a next generation biofuel equivalent to gasoline.
'Super enzymes' could lower cost of biofuel production
Researchers at the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) believe they have found one of these ‘super enzymes’ that might accelerate the commercialization of next generation cellulosic biofuels.
Patagonia fungus that produces 'diesel' fuels
A research group led by Montana State University Professor Gary Strobel has found a fungus (Gliocladium roseum) inside a Patagonia rainforest that produces hydrocarbon chains similar to diesel fuel or “myco-diesel”.
Bio Hydrogen production breakthrough – Artificial Photosynthesis
Researchers at the University of Oxford are using hydrogen producing enzymes (hydrogenase) to hydrogen from water using sunlight (artificial photosynthesis).
Research breakthrough in microbial fuel cell converts waste to energy
Researchers at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities believe they have found a unique species of bacteria, Geobacter sulfurreducens, that can convert wastewater organic compounds into electricity using a low cost carbon (graphite) electrode.
US researchers rewarded for advancing biocatalysts
The U.S. DOE Savannah River National Laboratory has received an award for its patent-pending BioTiger™ biocatalyst that is capable of cleaning up polluted environments and enhancing recovery efforts from non-conventional hydrocarbon deposits such as Canada’s oil tar sands.
Genetically modified corn results in waste products for ethanol
Researchers at Michigan State believe they can make corn-stover ‘digest’ itself after harvest, lowering the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol from corn plant waste.
Breakthrough In Biofuel Production Process
UMass researchers have announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components. UW Madison’s James Dumesic announced an integrated process for creating chemical components of jet fuel using a green gasoline approach.
Low cost catalyst that converts cellulose into ethylene glycol
Researchers in China and Delaware have developed a new nickel based catalyst that directly converts cellulose into ethylene glycol, which is used in the chemical industry.
New Method Converts Organic Matter To Hydrogen Fuel Easily And Efficiently
Penn State researchers led by Bruce E. Logan announced a breakthrough microbial electrolysis cell that produces hydrogen from sugar rich feedstocks. The process still creates 144 percent more available energy than the electrical energy used to produce
Scientists a step closer to producing fuel from bacteria
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have mapped the metabolism of a type of bacteria called Nostoc, which fixes nitrogen and releases hydrogen that can then potentially be used as fuel.
Enzyme 'Mistake' May Yield Plant Oil For Biofuel Discovery
Brookhaven scientists trying to understand the process that removes hydrogen from carbon-carbon double bonds in fatty acids, may have found an enzyme that the leads to the process.