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Microbial Savings: Lower-cost Production Of Ethanol From Biomass Sources

Date:
January 19, 2007
Source:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Summary:
A tiny microbe may hold the key to simpler, lower-cost production of ethanol from biomass sources such as trees, grasses and cornstalks. Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are studying a bacterium known as Clostridium thermocellum, which has the ability to both degrade cellulose -- cellulose makes up the cell walls of plants -- into sugars and then ferment these sugars into alcohol, or ethanol.

A tiny microbe may hold the key to simpler, lower-cost production of ethanol from biomass sources such as trees, grasses and cornstalks.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are studying a bacterium known as Clostridium thermocellum, which has the ability to both degrade cellulose -- cellulose makes up the cell walls of plants -- into sugars and then ferment these sugars into alcohol, or ethanol.

Today's production methods involve a costly, multi-step, enzyme-and-yeast-based process that would price the fuel at more than $2.20 per gallon.

A group of ORNL researchers headed by Jonathan Mielenz is studying gene expression in this microbe to determine how these enzymatic functions are performed, revealing strategies for further reducing the cost of ethanol production. Within five years, researchers hope to demonstrate their process enhancements on an industrial scale.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Microbial Savings: Lower-cost Production Of Ethanol From Biomass Sources." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070118163245.htm>.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2007, January 19). Microbial Savings: Lower-cost Production Of Ethanol From Biomass Sources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070118163245.htm
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Microbial Savings: Lower-cost Production Of Ethanol From Biomass Sources." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070118163245.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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