DOE-Funded Research on Bacterial Enzyme Could Lead to Cheaper Biofuel

Project Overview
Positive Impact: A microorganism found in heated freshwater pools may hold the key to more efficient, cost-effective biofuel production.
Locations: Colorado, Georgia
Partners: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Bioenergy Science Center, University of Georgia
EERE Investment: $2 million
Clean Energy Sector: Sustainable transportationPDF

A microorganism found in heated freshwater pools may hold the key to more efficient, cost-effective biofuel production. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that an enzyme known as CelA can digest cellulose almost twice as fast as the leading enzyme currently on the market, and is also effective at breaking down xylan. Digestion of cellulose and xylan (which occur naturally in green plants) is an essential step in converting grasses and other forms of biomass into fuel. CelA is secreted by the bacterium Caldiscellulosiruptor bescii, which was first cultivated on biomass by researchers at the University of Georgia. If CelA continues to perform well in larger tests, it could help significantly reduce the cost of producing biofuel.

The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) works with a broad spectrum of industrial, academic, agricultural, and nonprofit partners across the United States to develop and deploy commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower from renewable biomass resources in America to reduce our dependence on imported oil.

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