Researchers from Guildford, UK, have successfully developed a new strain of bacteria that can break down straw and agricultural plant waste, domestic hedge clippings, garden trimmings and cardboard, wood chippings and other municipal rubbish to convert them all into useful renewable fuels for the transport industry.
"The bioethanol produced in our process can be blended with existing gasoline to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, help tackle global warming, reduce dependence upon foreign oil and help meet national and international targets for renewable energy," said Paul Milner, Fermentation Development Manager of TMO Renewables Ltd, based in Surrey Research Park, Guildford.
The new strain of bacteria allows ethanol to be produced much more efficiently and cheaply than in traditional yeast-based fermentation, which is based on the beer-brewing process and forms the basis for most current commercial bioethanol production.
"Conventional ethanol production is energy-intensive, expensive, and time-consuming as the barley malt or other material being brewed needs to be heated up as a mash in feedstock pre-treatment. Then it is significantly cooled from that high temperature to a lower temperature for yeast fermentation, only to be re-heated when it is later distilled into ethanol. Our process is much more energy-efficient." said Paul Milner.
TMO's microbiologists screened thousands of different wild types of bacteria, looking for one that could survive high temperatures and that liked feeding off a wide variety of plant based materials.
"We found some heat-loving bacteria in a compost heap, from the Geobacillus family, which in their wild form produce lactic acid as a by-product of sugar synthesis when they break down biomass," said Paul Milner. "We altered their internal metabolism, adapting them to produce substantial amounts of ethanol instead".
"Our new microorganism, called TM242, can efficiently convert the longer-chain sugars from woody biomass materials into ethanol. This thermophilic bacterium operates at high temperatures of 60oC-70oC and digests a wide range of feedstocks very rapidly," said Paul Milner.
The scientists estimate that some 7 million tons of surplus straw is available in the UK every year. Turning it into ethanol could replace 10% of the gasoline fuel used in this country. "As our process uses agricultural waste materials such as straw, wood, paper and plants and other cellulosic fibre from domestic and municipal waste, it provides significantly greater environmental and economic benefits than crop-derived biofuels which some believe have contributed to the increased prices of basic food in so many countries," said Paul Milner.
"We have recently completed commissioning the UK's first cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility - one of just a handful worldwide," said Paul Milner. "We are constantly researching new, better ways to produce biofuels. We also believe that our process can be used successfully beyond biofuels to produce other high-value chemicals and drug ingredients that are currently derived from oil."
Lucy Goodchild | alfa
Alkaline soil, sensible sensor
03.08.2017 | American Society of Agronomy
New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences