The first long-term U.S. field trials of Miscanthus x giganteus reveal that its exceptional yields, though reduced somewhat after five years of growth, are still more than twice those of switchgrass, a perennial grass used as a bioenergy feedstock. Miscanthus grown in Illinois also outperforms even the high yields found in earlier studies of the crop in Europe, the researchers found.
Scientists have charted a significant signaling network in a tiny organism that's big in the...
Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the Univ. of California, San Diego have...
For 40 years, scientists thought they understood...
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories will use their expertise in protein expression, enzyme engineering and high-throughput assays as part of a multiproject, $34 million effort by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy aimed at developing advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.
The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural waste is finally winding its way into the nation's energy supply. But the full benefits of this fuel source remain many years away, and ethanol, which was meant to be a stop-gap until non-food sources of fuel were found, has been far more damaging to the environment than the government predicted.
Researchers studying more effective ways to convert woody plant matter into biofuels have identified fundamental forces that change plant structures during pretreatment processes used in the production of bioenergy. Experimental techniques including neutron scattering and x-ray analysis with supercomputer simulations revealed unexpected findings about what happens to water molecules trapped between cellulose fibers.
Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers. This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline.
Scientists looking to create a potent blend of enzymes to transform materials like corn stalks and wood chips into fuels have developed a test that should turbocharge their efforts. The new research is part of a worldwide effort to create fuels from plants that are plentiful and aren't part of the food supply. It's possible to do this today, but the process is costly, laborious and lengthy.
The demand for algae is surging as researchers discover new applications for it across the food, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic and biofuel industries. Algae can be used as a nutritional supplement to add vitamins or healthy fats to food; as a producer of biologic and all-natural drugs; as an antioxidant in food supplements or rich oils in cosmetics and as the basis for clean fuels such as biodiesel.
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified the key genes required for oil production and accumulation in plant leaves and other vegetative plant tissues. Enhancing expression of these genes resulted in vastly increased oil content in leaves, the most abundant sources of plant biomass—a finding that could have important implications for increasing the energy content of plant-based foods and renewable biofuel feedstocks.
Congress should minimally modify—and not, as petroleum-related interests have increasingly lobbied for, repeal—the Renewable Fuel Standard (RSF), the most comprehensive renewable energy policy in the U.S., according to a new paper from two Univ. of Illinois researchers. In the study, the researchers argue that RFS mandates merely ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities.
If you have stopped at a gas station recently, there is a good chance your auto has consumed fuel with ethanol blended into it. Yet the price of gasoline is not substantially affected by the volume of its ethanol content, according to a paper co-authored by an MIT economist. The study seeks to rebut the claim that widespread use of ethanol has reduced the wholesale cost of gasoline by $0.89 to $1.09 per gallon.
Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10%.
Univ. of California, Los Angeles chemical engineering researchers have created a new synthetic metabolic pathway for breaking down glucose that could lead to a 50% increase in the production of biofuels. The new pathway is intended to replace the natural metabolic pathway known as glycolysis, a series of chemical reactions that nearly all organisms use to convert sugars into the molecular precursors that cells need.
Using a new and super-sensitive instrument, researchers have discovered where a protein binds to plant cell walls, a process that loosens the cell walls and makes it possible for plants to grow. Finding that binding target has been a major challenge for structural biologists because there are only tiny amounts of the protein involved in cell growth and cell walls are very complex.
Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences (GIEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Univ. of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan and the Univ. of Engineering & Technology Lahore, Pakistan in Lahore to enhance scientific cooperation and the exchange of scientists, young scholars and technicians between the two sides.
In the parallel universe of the microbiological world, there is a current superstar species of blue-green algae that, through its powers of photosynthesis and carbon dioxide fixation, or uptake, can produce (count ’em) ethanol, hydrogen, butanol, isobutanol and potentially biodiesel. Called Synechocystis 6803, it also has the potential to make commodity chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Farmers who grow corn and soybeans can take advantage of government price support programs and crop insurance, but similar programs are not available for those who grow biomass crops. A new study recommends a framework for contracts between growers and biorefineries to help spell out expectations and designate who will assume the risks and costs.
A formal partnership agreement to encourage collaborative research, build educational and workforce development programs and inform policy endeavors regarding renewable energy efforts has been signed by Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State Univ. The move will facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations and help them secure research funding.
Butanol is good drop-in fuel and surpasses ethanol with its higher heating value, its compatibility with current gasoline engines and its existing gasoline distribution infrastructure. However, for any biofuel to have a positive economic and environmental impact, production must be efficient, scalable and have a small carbon footprint. Industrial Technology Research Institute has developed a butanol production technology, called ButyFix, which is designed to meet the above requirements.
Tennessee scientists are using one of Earth’s smallest creatures to solve some of the government’s biggest bioenergy problems. For the next three years, a $2.1 million grant is allowing researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use a process called microbial electrolysis to transform plant biomass into hydrogen to produce energy-rich biofuel for use in combustion engines.
A fungus and E. coli bacteria have joined forces to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol, a biofuel that matches gasoline's properties better than ethanol. Univ. of Michigan research team members said the principle also could be used to produce other valuable chemicals such as plastics.
The advantages of the one-stop shop have long been recognized in the retailing and services industries. Similar advantages would also be realized for the biofuels industry with the development of a “one-pot” processing system in which sugars could be extracted from biomass and turned into fuels in a single vat. A major step forward in this goal has now been achieved by Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers.
A team of Univ. of Michigan researchers has been awarded a $2 million federal grant to identify and test naturally diverse groups of green algae that can be grown together to create a high-yield, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective system to produce next-generation biofuels.
The use of enzymes from thermophiles—microbes that thrive at extremely high temperatures and alkaline conditions—holds promise for extracting fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. Finding the most effective of these microbial enzymes has been a challenge, but Joint BioEnergy Institute scientists have recently made progress in this area by adapting a combination of metagenomic and metaproteomic technologies.
Could there come a time in which the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants is harvested and used to produce clean, green and renewable liquid transportation fuels? A pathway to that possibility has been opened by a team of researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute who have engineered a microbe now being used to produce biodegradable plastic into a strain that can produce a high-performance advanced biofuel.
Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the most recent U.S. energy charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Natural gas use is up in the electricity generation sector, where it has basically substituted directly for coal, while sustained low natural gas prices have prompted a shift from coal to gas in the electricity generating sector.
Jatropha, a plant variety that has been pursued as possible source for biofuel, has seeds with high oil content. But the oil's potential as a biofuel is limited because, for large-scale production, this shrub-like plant needs the same amount of care and resources as crop plants. By focusing on the plant’s drought response and using engineered genetics, the scientists have learned more about potentially improving the plant’s function.
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