They discovered that the bacterium Cupriavidus basilensis breaks down harmful by-products which are produced when sugars are released from wood. They also managed to incorporate the degradation process in bacteria which are in common industrial use.
This breakthrough does away with the need to resort to costly and environmentally unfriendly methods for removing by-products, thereby boosting the appeal of waste wood as a sustainable resource. The research results were published on 2 March in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS).
The use of wood or plant waste in the production of chemicals and biofuels such as bioethanol has the advantage that such raw materials do not compete with food production. However, the use of these so-called "second generation raw materials" is not yet ideal. Sugars found in wood in the form of lignocelluloses are not naturally well digested by the micro-organisms which convert biomass into usable raw materials. First these complex sugars have to be released and broken down into digestible units. This process gives rise to harmful by-products, including furans, which can have a strong inhibiting effect on the fermentation process.
Researchers Frank Koopman and Nick Wierckx discovered that the bacterium Cupriavidus basilensis is capable of breaking furans down into harmless waste products, while leaving the wood sugars untouched. Together with their supervisors, Koopman and Wierckx unlocked the secrets of the entire degradation process in the bacterium, identifying the genes and enzymes involved. In addition, they succeeded in introducing this entire degradation process into the bacterium Pseudomonas putida, an organism frequently used in industrial biotechnology, and which is not naturally capable of breaking down furans.
Supervisor Han de Winde, Professor of Industrial Microbiology at TU Delft's Biotechnology Department takes up the story: "The fact that we now have a process for breaking down furans, not to mention one that can be successfully incorporated into other organisms, paves the way for removing these kinds of compounds during the production of second-generation chemicals and fuels from waste wood. This enables us to avoid the costly and environmentally unfriendly methods which are currently used to remove furans. That makes using wood waste as a sustainable raw material a much more attractive proposition."
The research by Koopman, Wierckx, Ruijssenaars and De Winde forms part of the B-BASIC consortium. B-BASIC (which stands for Bio-based Sustainable Industrial Chemistry) is an NWO-ACTS research consortium in which Dutch universities and research institutes collaborate with industrial partners. The programme is geared towards developing new concepts for the sustainable production of energy and chemicals. The technologies generated by B-BASIC offer major benefits to society, such as cleaner production, waste recycling and a more competitive market position. On this project, the consortium collaborated with research institute TNO's working group on bioconversion.
Ineke Boneschansker | EurekAlert!
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences