News

New source for biofuels discovered

0 136 Home

A newly created microbe produces cellulose that can be turned into ethanol and other biofuels, report scientists from The University of Texas at Austin who say the microbe could provide a significant portion of the nation's transportation fuel if production can be scaled up.
001_boerderij-image-AAF1841I01.jpg

Along with cellulose, the cyanobacteria developed by Professor R. Malcolm Brown Jr. and Dr. David Nobles Jr. secrete glucose and sucrose. These simple sugars are the major sources used to produce ethanol.

"The cyanobacterium is potentially a very inexpensive source for sugars to use for ethanol and designer fuels," says Nobles, a research associate in the Section of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

Decreased pressure on rainforest
Brown and Nobles say their cyanobacteria can be grown in production facilities on non-agricultural lands using salty water unsuitable for human consumption or crops.

Brown sees a major benefit in using cyanobacteria to produce ethanol is a reduction in the amount of arable land turned over to fuel production and decreased pressure on forests.

"The pressure is on all these corn farmers to produce corn for non-food sources," says Brown, the Johnson & Johnson Centennial Chair in Plant Cell Biology. "That same demand, for sucrose, is now being put on Brazil to open up more of the Amazon rainforest to produce more sugarcane for our growing energy needs. We don't want to do that. You'll never get the forests back."

Lot of work ahead
Brown and Nobles calculate that the approximate area needed to produce ethanol with corn to fuel all U.S. transportation needs is around 820,000 square miles, an area almost the size of the entire Midwest. They hypothesize they could produce an equal amount of ethanol using an area half that size with the cyanobacteria based on current levels of productivity in the lab, but they caution that there is a lot of work ahead before cyanobacteria can provide such fuel in the field.

Related folder:
Dossier AllAbout Bio Energy   

Related website:
University of Texas  

Subscribe here to the free animal feed newsletter

by Editor AllAboutFeed last update:6 Aug 2012

Related tags

Leave a comment

Or register to be able to comment.