Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ISU researcher develops green, bio-based process for producing fuel additive

25.06.2010
A new green, bio-based method for producing a much-used fuel additive and industrial chemical that is currently made from petroleum products has been developed by an Iowa State University researcher.

Thomas Bobik, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, invented a process for manufacturing isobutene (isobutylene) by identifying a new, natural enzyme that produces the fuel organically.

Bobik, along with David Gogerty, a doctoral student working with him on the project, believe that once more research is completed, there could be huge benefits to the biofuels industry.

"I would emphasize that we are very early on in the process," said Bobik. "But isobutene has some special properties that could have a big impact."

Bobik's enzyme makes it possible to convert the glucose found naturally in plants to make isobutene. The enzyme is found naturally in about half of all organisms in the world.

While patent applications proceed, Bobik will not disclose the specific enzyme.

Isobutene is a gas used to produce chemicals and also in the manufacturing of fuel additives, adhesives, plastics and synthetic rubber.

It can be chemically converted to isooctane, which is a fuel that could be used to replace gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MBTE), which can be environmentally harmful.

Isooctane is used in gasoline to stop engine knocking and other problems. Currently, isooctane is produced from petroleum products.

By using his naturally occurring, biological process to produce isobutene, Bobik believes there will be environmental and cost benefits to the biofuels industry.

Currently, one of the biggest expenses in producing the biofuel ethanol is the cost of separating the ethanol from the water where it's made. Bobik's new process will not include the cost of separation.

"Isobutene is a gas, so we can imagine that it will be easy to remove the isobutene from the vessel in which it was made, and that should be a very cheap and efficient way to purify the biofuel," said Bobik.

One of the drawbacks, Bobik warns, is the process currently takes too long.

"The activity of the enzyme (in making the isobutene) is low," Bobik said. "It's too low for commercial application. So we're trying to use directed enzyme evolution to improve the activity of the enzyme so it can become commercially viable."

Directed enzyme evolution is the effort to engineer enzymes to perform certain functions. In this case, it is trying to find a way to get the enzyme to produce isobutene more quickly than in nature.

Bobik says progress is being made rapidly and perhaps, within 10 years, motorists may be using a bio-based, environmentally friendly ingredient in their gas tanks every time they fill up.

Thomas Bobik | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2010/jun/bobik
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>