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NY State Awards $750K for Cellulosic Biofuel and Related Research

The New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) has awarded a Cornell University professor a $750,000 grant to explore the use of plant and microbial resources to produce biofuels, industrial chemicals, natural products and other consumer goods.

Larry Walker, a professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, will concentrate on integrating nanotechnology with classical molecular biology and microbiology techniques to engineer industrial enzymes or to identify novel microorganisms that are important in the production of biofuels and industrial chemicals.

His research group has been actively involved in developing more efficient and cost-effective cellulases to convert biomass-derived cellulose into fermentable sugars and developing the processes that can convert these sugars into ethanol, hydrogen and other fuels or industrial chemicals.

Another major focus of Walker’s research group is to develop a lab-on-a-chip device for an accurate and detailed description of bacteria and to identify novel industrial microorganisms and enzymes that could be employed in bioconversion.

Walker groups his research into four primary areas:

  • Single Molecular detection and analysis method to the challenge of elucidating hydrolytic and synergistic mechanisms of cellulases acting on microcrystalline cellulose.

  • Modeling, analysis and optimization of solid-state fermentation processes for the production of natural products.

  • Modeling and optimization of submerged fermentation processes for the production of enzymes and other products.

  • Single molecule detection and nano-fabricated devices for use in molecular ecology studies of microbial community in high-solids degradation processes.

The award was part of more than $4.4 million in funding to researchers at five universities in New York state.

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