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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

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

September 01, 2017

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 in light-driven, bio-based production of hydrocarbons.

Many organisms—photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic—use light for processes such as growth, development, and metabolism. In most cases, the researchers note, the effects of light on cell physiology are mediated by photoactive proteins, which include light-sensitive ion channels and pumps, photoreceptors, photosynthetic antenna proteins, and light-dependent enzymes. There are two different types of light-dependent enzymes: light-activated, which requires only a flash of light to become active; and photoenzymes, which require a continuous flux of photons to remain catalytically active. Photoenzymes, they note, are rare.

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

November 10, 2016

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 develops during the fermentation process as the yeast produces ethanol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide creates foam, which can cause overflow of the fermentation tank and lead to production losses. Excessive foaming also forces plants to increase fermentation time and operate at lower capacity. Ethanol producers typically use a combination of anti-foam and dispersant chemicals to reduce the formation of foam, but their performance varies according to process and feedstock conditions.

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