Smart Farms of the Future: Making Bioenergy Crops More Environmentally Friendly

Farmers have enough worries – between bad weather, rising costs, and shifting market demands – without having to stress about the carbon footprint of their operations. But now a new set of projects by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) could make agriculture both more sustainable and more profitable.

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Brookhaven Biochemist Receives Prestigious Award for Plant Lipid Research

Jantana Keereetaweep, a biochemistry research associate in the biology department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been awarded the Paul K. Stumpf Award for her research on plant lipids (fats and oils). The award, given every two years, recognizes the contributions of a promising early-career scientist in honor of Stumpf, who was a world leader and pioneer in the study of plant lipid biochemistry.

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Making Biofuels Cheaper by Putting Plants to Work

One strategy to make biofuels more competitive is to make plants do some of the work themselves. Scientists can engineer plants to produce valuable chemical compounds, or bioproducts, as they grow. Then the bioproducts can be extracted from the plant and the remaining plant material can be converted into fuel. But one important part of this strategy has remained unclear — exactly how much of a particular bioproduct would plants need to make in order to make the process economically feasible?

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Seeing starch: Novel technique enables gentle observation of biofuel materials

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production.

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How to Make it Easier to Turn Plant Waste into Biofuels

Researchers have developed a new process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Their approach, featuring an ammonia-salt based solvent that rapidly turns plant fibers into sugars needed to make ethanol, works well at close to room temperature, unlike conventional processes, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Green Chemistry.

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Scientists Discover Key Factors in How Some Algae Absorb Solar Energy

Scientists have discovered how diatoms – a type of algae that produces 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen – absorb solar energy for photosynthesis. The Rutgers University-led discovery, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help lead to more efficient and affordable algae-based biofuels and combat climate change from fossil fuel burning.

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