Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute Develop Technology to Produce Sugar from Photosynthetic Bacteria

29.06.2010
Researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard and Harvard Medical School have engineered photosynthetic bacteria to produce simple sugars and lactic acid. This innovation could lead to new, environmentally friendly methods for producing commodity chemicals in bulk. Their research findings appear in the current issue of Applied and Environmental Biology.

This photosynthetic factory could also reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with transporting sugar globally from producing countries; lead to greater availability of biodegradable plastics; and allow capture of harmful CO2 emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

In addition to its positive environmental impact, the technology offers potential economic advantages. Because the production methods use photosynthesis - the process by which living things are assembled using only CO2 and sunlight - the cost of making sugars, lactic acid, and other compounds would be significantly lower than traditional methods.

“What we’re doing is using genetic engineering to get organisms to act the way we want them to—in this case producing food additives,” said Wyss Institute senior staff scientist Jeffrey Way, Ph.D. “These discoveries have significant practical implications in moving toward a green economy.”

In addition to Dr. Way, researchers on this effort include Wyss Institute core faculty member Professor Pamela Silver, Ph.D., also of Harvard Medical School; and Henrike Niederholtmeyer, Bernd T. Wolfstadter, and David Savage, Ph.D., all of Harvard Medical School.

Sugar is primarily produced from sugar cane, which grows only in tropical and subtropical climates. By enabling production almost anywhere in the world, this living cellular manufacturing plant could greatly reduce the cost and emissions associated with transporting millions of tons of sugar to consumers every year. It could also expand the availability of biodegradable plastics by reducing the cost of lactic acid, a key building block in their production.

The current work by Way and Silver’s team is the latest innovation in a wide-ranging program in which the Wyss Institute is working with various partner institutions to develop environmentally sustainable ways to produce biofuels, hydrogen, and other high value chemicals and food additives.

“Our mission at the Wyss Institute is to use Nature’s design principles to create solutions in medicine, manufacturing, energy, and architecture that will lead to a more sustainable world,” said Don Ingber, Ph.D., M.D., Founding Director of the Wyss Institute. “This work is an important step in that direction.”

Contact:
Mary Tolikas
mary.tolikas@wyss.harvard.edu
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University uses Nature’s design principles to create breakthrough technologies that will revolutionize medicine, industry, and the environment. Working as an alliance among Harvard’s schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk, fundamental research that leads to transformative change. By applying biological principles, Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, manufacturing, robotics, energy and sustainable architecture. These technologies are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances and new startups.

Mary Tolikas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wyss.harvard.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>