Scientists seeking to unravel the details of how plants produce and accumulate oil have identified a new essential component of the assembly line–a particular sterol that plays a key role in the formation of oil droplets. The findings may suggest new ways to engineer the oil content of a variety of plant tissues for potential applications in bioenergy, chemical engineering, and nutrition.
A common farm weed could make a “greener” jet fuel with fewer production-related environmental impacts than other biofuels, a new study indicates.
Research shows options with high yield and low water use
In a step toward increasing the cost-effectiveness of renewable biofuels and bioproducts, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered a microbial enzyme that degrades tough-to-break bonds in lignin, a waste product of biorefineries.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today awarded $45.5 million for research projects geared towards understanding and harnessing nature’s biological processes to produce clean biofuels and bioproducts.
An international research team reports their success in using urea and sodium hydroxide (NaOH, commonly known as lye or caustic soda) as a pretreatment of algae, which breaks down cellulose and more than doubles biogas production under their initial experimental conditions.
With a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), UD Professor Eleftherios (Terry) Papoutsakis is developing a system to produce bioenergy from a mix of microbes that can convert carbon dioxide into useful chemicals.
To understand the effects of expanding biofuel production, scientists must accurately represent biofuel crops in land surface models. Using observations from biofuel plants in the Midwestern United States, researchers simulated two biofuel perennial plants, miscanthus and switchgrass. The simulations indicate these high-yield perennial crops have several advantages over traditional annual bioenergy crops—they assimilate more carbon dioxide, and they require fewer nutrients and less water.
Helping to strengthen the economic viability of biorefineries in the production of alternative fuels derived from biomass is critical to decreasing the use of fossil fuels and mitigating carbon dioxide emissions.
In Nature, a multi-institutional team including DOE Joint Genome Institute researchers has produced a high-quality reference sequence of the complex switchgrass genome. Building off this work, bioenergy researchers are exploring targeted genome editing techniques to customize the crop.
Red algae have persisted in hot springs and surrounding rocks for about 1 billion years. Now, a Rutgers-led team will investigate why these single-celled extremists have thrived in harsh environments – research that could benefit environmental cleanups and the production of biofuels and other products.
Biochemist Jennifer Doudna, a professor at UC Berkeley and faculty scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), is co-winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the development of a method for genome editing.”
University of Adelaide researchers as part of a multidisciplinary, international team, have uncovered a new biochemical mechanism fundamental to plant life.
The research, published in The Plant Journal details the discovery of the enzymatic reaction involving carbohydrates present in plant cell walls, which are essential for their structure.
Creating biofuels from plant material requires ionic liquids (ILs) to break down plant cells. We also need microbes such as yeast to convert the resulting plant material into biofuel. However, ILs often keep microbes from growing. Scientists have now learned how one strain of yeast strengthens its membranes and holds up better to ILs.
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.
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.
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?
Loading single platinum atoms on titanium dioxide promotes the conversion of a plant derivative into a potential biofuel.
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.
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.
Science Snapshots – Waste to fuel, moiré superlattices, mining cellphones for energy data
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.