VTT-led project to develop enzymes found in India’s wildfire-prone areas for biorefineries; IndZyme

Micro-organisms found in the wildfire-prone rainforests of India are an potential resources for biochemical production, as they are accustomed to the challenging conditions following a forest fire. The enzymes they produce are likely to also have a higher-than-normal resistance to the substances released from biomass in high-temperature industrial processes. An... Read more →

French team finds light-driven algal enzyme that converts fatty acids to hydrocarbons

A team of researchers in France has discovered an algal photoenzyme that catalyzes the decarboxylation of free fatty acids to n-alkanes or -alkenes in response to blue light. In a paper in the journal Science, the researchers suggest that the photoenzyme, which they named fatty acid photodecarboxylase, may be useful... Read more →

Novozymes launches world’s first biological foam control for sugarcane ethanol; up to 20% cost reduction

Novozymes has launched Fermax, an enzyme protease that prevents foam development during the sugarcane ethanol fermentation process, while delivering improved control and replacing chemicals. For an average size plant, trialing partners also experienced a cost reduction of up to 20% when using Fermax, as compared with use of chemicals. Foam... Read more →

Lund researchers develop optimized two-phase enzymatic process for production of biodiesel

Researchers at Lund University (Sweden) have developed an optimized two-phase enzymatic (lipase) system for the conversion of plant oils to biodiesel. Applied to the solvent-free ethanolysis of rapeseed oil, the system delivered a yield of 96% under mild conditions. Under the mild conditions used, chemical catalysts were inefficient. An open... Read more →

DeltaWing Technology Group is beginning development of a DeltaWing GT race car concept. The racer will be designed to demonstrate that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unattained... Read more →

Researchers ID structure of key intermediate in enzyme converting methane to methanol; potential for synthetic fuels

A team from the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University has identified the structure of the key intermediate “Q” in the enzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO). MMO catalyzes the O2-dependent conversion of methane to methanol in methanotrophic bacteria, thereby preventing the emission into the atmosphere of approximately one billion tons... Read more →

Novozymes has launched Eversa Transform, the first commercially available enzymatic solution (a liquid lipase) to convert both glycerides and free fatty acids (FFA) into biodiesel. Biodiesel producers can thereby use cooking oil or other lower grade oils as biodiesel feedstock, reducing their raw material costs. The resulting enzymatic biodiesel is... Read more →

Researchers enhance yeast thermotolerance and ethanol tolerance; potential for significant impact on industrial biofuel production

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays a central role in global biofuel production; currently, about 100 billion liters of ethanol are produced annually worldwide by fermentation of mainly sugarcane saccharose and corn starch by the yeast. There are also efforts underway to use the yeast with cellulosic biomass. Boosting the yield... Read more →

China Yuchai introduces 8 new diesel engines for on-road and off-road applications; plug-in hybrid model

China Yuchai International Limited’s main operating subsidiary, Guangxi Yuchai Machinery Company Limited (GYMCL), unveiled 8 new engine models for truck, construction and marine applications. To better meet the needs of the truck and bus markets in China, several new engine models were introduced, all meeting the National IV emission standards... Read more →

Beta Renewables and Novozymes to form strategic partnership in the cellulosic biofuel market; Novozymes takes 10% stake

Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, and Beta Renewables have agreed to market, to demonstrate and to guarantee jointly cellulosic biofuel solutions. Beta Renewables is a $350-million (€250-million) joint venture formed from the Chemtex division of Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi and TPG focused on the development and broad... Read more →

Scanning electron micrograph of wood being decayed by the white rot fungus Punctularia strigoso-zonata. (Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota) Click to enlarge. Coal deposits—the fossilized remains of plants—were formed during a 60-million year period from around 360 to 300 million years ago. A team of 71 researchers from 12 countries,... Read more →

Winners of 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

American Chemical Society (ACS) President Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., and Jim Jones, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced the winners of the 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge was established to... Read more →

Researchers engineer hyper-catalytic enzymes with estimated 8 to 52-fold increase in activity; implications for biofuels

A team led by Pratul Agarwal of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has used light of specific wavelengths to modify the enzyme Candida antarctica lipase B (CALB) to promote catalysis. Preliminary estimations indicate that the engineered enzyme achieved 8–52 fold better catalytic activity than the unmodulated... Read more →

Researchers identify cocktail of enzymes from termites and symbionts that break down cellulose; benefits for cellulosic biofuel production

Researchers at Purdue University led by Mike Scharf, the O. Wayne Rollins/Orkin Chair in Molecular Physiology and Urban Entomology, have identified a cocktail of enzymes from the guts of termites that may be better at getting around the barriers that inhibit fuel production from woody biomass. The findings, published in... Read more →

Newly identified enzyme from hyperthermophilic archaea could assist cellulosic biofuels production

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine have characterized a new cellulase (cellulose-digesting enzyme) that has optimal activity at 109 °C, a half-life of 5 h at 100 °C, and resists denaturation in strong detergents, high-salt concentrations, and ionic liquids. Cellulases active... Read more →

Halorhabdus utahensis, the source of the salt-tolerant enzyme. Source: JGI. Click to enlarge. Researchers from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have used a genome-based approach to identify and characterize a halophilic (salt-tolerant) cellulase... Read more →

Structure of the newly identified lignin-degrading enzyme from Rhodococcus. Copyright: Lindsay Eltis and Michael Murphy. Click to enlarge. Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-led Integrated Biorefining Research and Technology (IBTI) Club have identified an enzyme in bacteria which is important in breaking down lignin. This... Read more →

Agrivida’s cell wall degrading (CWD) technology. Poster from 2010 ARPA-E Summit. Click to enlarge. Agrivida, Inc. and Syngenta Ventures will collaborate to develop advanced crop technology that will provide low-cost sugars from cellulosic biomass for a variety of industrial applications including biofuels and biochemicals without requiring external enzymes for biomass... Read more →

Researchers Identify Enzyme That Breaks Down Chitin; May Lead to Cheaper Biofuels

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) have identified an enzyme that can help to break down recalcitrant crystalline polysaccharides such as cellulose and chitin. In a paper in the 8 Oct. issue of the journal Science, the team describes an enzyme that acts on the surface of... Read more →

Scope of the DISCO project. Click to enlarge. The EU-funded project known as DISCO (Discovery of Novel Enzymes & Reaction Mechanisms for Lignocellulose Hydrolysis), is halfway through its four-year quest to develop more efficient and cost-effective enzyme tools from microorganisms to produce bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass waste—such as spruce chips... Read more →

Novozymes and Lignol Partner on Cellulosic Ethanol from Wood

Enzyme-producer Novozymes and cellulosic ethanol company Lignol Energy Corporation signed a research and development agreement to make biofuel from wood chips and other forestry residues. The partners aim to develop a process for making biofuel from forestry waste at a production cost down to $2 per gallon, a price competitive... Read more →

Tobacco Plant-derived Enzyme Cocktail for Efficient and Low-Cost Hydrolysis of Biomass for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

One of the barriers to cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol is inadequate technology to efficiently and economically release fermentable sugars from cellulosic biomass. Companies such as Novozymes have worked for years to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of their enzymes for this type of application. (Earlier post.) Now,... Read more →

The decrease in enzyme cost brings the low end of cellulosic ethanol production cost below the high end of corn ethanol production cost. Source: Novozymes. Click to enlarge. Novozymes has launched what it called the first commercially viable enzymes for production of biofuel from agricultural waste. The new Cellic CTec2... Read more →

Researchers Publish First Volume of Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea; Resource for Optimizing Biofuels, Bioremediation and Carbon Capture

Genome researchers from the US and Germany have published the initial “volume” of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA)—an analysis of the first 56 genomes sequenced from the two domains. The paper appeared in the 24 December edition of the journal Nature. The Earth is estimated to have... Read more →

Top: Lignin is normally synthesized from three monolignols. The hydroxyl groups (OH), shown in red, must remain unmodified for these precursors to link up. Bottom: The new enzyme (green structure) can methylate the hydroxyl group, potentially interfering with lignin biosynthesis. Click to enlarge. Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s... Read more →

Novozymes in Two New Research Partnerships in Brazil; Biogas from Bagasse and Polypropylene from Sugarcane

Novozymes, an international enzymes and microorganisms company, has entered two new research partnerships in Brazil. A partnership with Cetrel, the largest provider of environmental solutions for the manufacturing industry in Latin America, is focused on the production of biogas from sugarcane bagasse using enzymes. The biogas can be used to... Read more →

NEMO will focus on novel enzymes for hydrolysis and novel microorganisms for cellulosic ethanol production to identify the most eco-efficient and economic process options for cellulosic ethanol. Source: Universita Degli Studi di Milano. Click to enlarge. The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has launched, as co-ordinator, the NEMO project... Read more →

Portions of three natural fungal cellulase enzymes that have been recombined to produce a synthetic, thermostable cellulase are denoted by blue, green and red coloring. The recombined cellulase enzyme modeled here functions at higher temperatures than any of the three parents. Source: Caltech. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the California... Read more →

Enzymatic Process Converts Cellulosic Materials and Water into Hydrogen at Low Temperature; Close to Theoretical Yield of H2 From Glucose

Hydrogen production from cellodextrin and water by a synthetic enzymatic pathway. Ye et al. (2009) Click to enlarge. Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia have produced hydrogen gas in a spontaneous, “one-pot” process using an enzyme cocktail, cellulosic materials from non-food sources,... Read more →

Genetic Analysis of Brown Rot Fungus Reveals Unique Enzyme Systems for Breaking Down Cellulose; Possible Application for More Efficient Cellulosic Biofuels Processes

Scanning electron micrograph showing the thread-like fungus ramifying through wood cells. Photo: Tom Kuster (FPL). Click to enlarge. An international team led by scientists from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) has analyzed the... Read more →

Protéus and Syngenta to Collaborate to Develop Enzymes for Cellulosic Biofuel Production

Directed evolution through gene shuffling. Source: Protéus. Click to enlarge. Protéus, a France-based biotechnology company, will collaborate with global agribusiness company Syngenta on the development of novel high-performance enzymes for cellulosic biofuel production. Both diversity screening and directed evolution methods will be used for the discovery and the optimization of... Read more →

Researchers Modifying Poplar Tree Lignin Structure to Facilitate Processing for Cellulosic Biofuels

Researchers at Penn State University are modifying the structure of lignin—a polymer that is a major component of woody plant material—in poplar trees to facilitate its degradation for the subsequent processing of the woody biomass into liquid fuels. Lignin is woven in with cellulose and provides plants with the strength... Read more →

Researchers Engineer Bacteria to Produce Nonnatural Alcohols with Higher Energy Density

Schematic representation of the biosynthetic pathway of the 6-carbon alcohol 3-methyl-1-pentanol. The engineered nonnatural metabolic pathway is shaded in lavender. Click to enlarge. Credit: PNAS Researchers at UCLA have developed a nonnatural biosynthetic pathway enabling the bacteria Escherichia coli to produce various long-chain alcohols with carbon numbers ranging from 5... Read more →

Sequencing of Fungus Genome Opens Opportunities for Improvements in Biofuels Enzymes

Microscope image of T. reesei hyphae with vesicle membranes stained red and cell wall chitin in blue. Click to enlarge. Courtesy of Mari Valkonen, VTT Finland. The genome analysis of the fungus Trichoderma reesei, notorious for the deterioration of fatigues and tents in the South Pacific theater of WWII, highlights... Read more →

Genencor Launches First Commercial Enzyme Product for Cellulosic Ethanol

Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, introduced Accellerase 1000, the first commercially available biomass enzyme developed specifically for second generation biorefineries. Accellerase 1000 contains a complex of enzymes that reduces complex lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. Genencor has been developing its biomass enzymes for more than 10 years. The effort... Read more →

AB Enzymes Introduces New Enzyme Product to Enhance Seedoil Extraction

AB Enzymes, one of the world’s oldest enzyme companies, has introduced a new product for the processing of vegetable oils. ROHALASE OS reduces the need for chemicals in the extraction of oil from seeds such as canola, sunflower and soy while delivering a higher yield. The product can be applied... Read more →

New Enzyme-Based Fuel Cell Produces Electricity from Hydrogen in Plain Air

Schematic representation of a bio fuel cell involving hydrogenase and laccase enzymes. Click to enlarge. Source: Armstrong Research Group Researchers at Oxford University have developed an enzyme-based fuel cell that produces electricity from ordinary air spiked with small amounts of hydrogen. The new type of cell would be an inexpensive... Read more →

Diversa and Celunol to Merge to Create Integrated Cellulosic Ethanol Company

Diversa Corporation and Celunol Corp. have signed a definitive merger agreement to create a new leader in the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry. The combined company will be the first within the cellulosic ethanol industry to possess integrated end-to-end capabilities in pre-treatment, novel enzyme development, fermentation, engineering, and project development. It... Read more →

Syngenta and Diversa Enter New 10-year Enzyme Partnership for Cellulosic Biofuels

Syngenta and Diversa Corporation have entered into a new 10-year research and development partnership focused on the discovery and development of a range of novel enzymes to convert pre-treated cellulosic biomass economically to mixed sugars for fermentation into biofuels. The new agreement allows Diversa to develop and commercialize fermentation-based enzyme... Read more →