Genetically modified microbe at the heart of streamlined conversion of biomass to isobutanol
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Researchers working at the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center say they have cracked a genetic code that will help speed the production of biofuel from tough cellulose raw materials like corn stover and switchgrass by developed a strain of a cellulose-degrading microbe that can synthesize isobutanol directly from cellulose.
Up to now, production of biofuel has involved several time-consuming steps that add to the cost, including pretreatment, enzyme treatment and fermentation.
Isobutanol is a higher grade of alcohol than ethanol and could eliminate the need for dedicated infrastructure in tanks or vehicles, Liao said. Compared to ethanol, higher alcohols such as isobutanol are better candidates for gasoline replacement because they have an energy density, octane value and Reid vapor pressure – a measurement of volatility – that is much closer to gasoline, he explained. Continue reading “New research could speed biofuel production”→
Increased production could have significant environmental impacts, but result in a net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A preliminary draft EPA report on renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel concludes that there are is a potential environmental downside to increased production. Tougher policies are needed to mitigate the impacts, the draft study concludes.
The environmental impacts associated with ramped up biofuels production include water quality degradation due to erosion and fertilizer runoff in areas with concentrated production of biofuel crops. Additionally, “Increased cultivation of of feedstocks for biofuel could potentially affect wildlife habitat if uncultivated land is put into production. Some plants and animals could also face increased risk of exposure to pesticides. Continue reading “New EPA report weighs pros and cons of biofuels”→
High production cost still a limiting factor in biofuel adoption, info-sharing model may help steer research efforts in right direction
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Biofuel experts working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute are hoping that an online, wiki-based model of information sharing will help move research in a direction that will ultimately lower the production cost and lead to clean, green biofuels that can compete with gasoline in cost and performance.
“The high production cost of biofuels has been the main factor limiting their widespread adoption,” said Daniel Klein-Marcuschamer who helped develop the new techno-economic model for the industry. “We felt that a model of the biorefinery operation that was open, transparent about the assumptions it uses, and updatable by the community of users could aid in guiding research in the direction where it is most likely to reduce the production cost of biofuels.”
Federal biofuel credit could help jump-start sales of stoves, boilers and even pellet-fuel BBQs
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —A new Colorado-based company is hoping to jumpstart the commercial market for beetle-killed wood with a network of stores selling eco-friendly pellet-fueled heating appliances, and a federal tax credit could help.