Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process

Date:
January 2, 2011
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Conversion of biomass to fuel requires several steps: chemical pretreatment to break up the biomass, detoxification to remove the toxic chemicals required in pretreatment, and microbial fermentation to convert the soluble sugars to fuels. Researchers have discovered an enzyme mixture that works in the presence of the toxic infused liquid biomass (hydrolysate), meaning that the detoxification step is unnecessary.

Tomorrow's fuel-cell vehicles may be powered by enzymes that consume cellulose from woodchips or grass and exhale hydrogen.

Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia have produced hydrogen gas pure enough to power a fuel cell by mixing 14 enzymes, one coenzyme, cellulosic materials from nonfood sources, and water heated to about 90 degrees (32 C).

The group announced three advances from their "one pot" process: 1) a novel combination of enzymes, 2) an increased hydrogen generation rate -- to as fast as natural hydrogen fermentation, and 3) a chemical energy output greater than the chemical energy stored in sugars -- the highest hydrogen yield reported from cellulosic materials.

"In addition to converting the chemical energy from the sugar, the process also converts the low-temperature thermal energy into high-quality hydrogen energy -- like Prometheus stealing fire," said Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

"It is exciting because using cellulose instead of starch expands the renewable resource for producing hydrogen to include biomass," said Jonathan Mielenz, leader of the Bioconversion Science and Technology Group at ORNL.

The researchers used cellulosic materials isolated from wood chips, but crop waste or switchgrass could also be used. "If a small fraction -- 2 or 3 percent -- of yearly biomass production were used for sugar-to-hydrogen fuel cells for transportation, we could reach transportation fuel independence," Zhang said. (He added that the 3 percent figure is for global transportation needs. The United States would actually need to convert about 10 percent of biomass -- which would be 1.3 billion tons of usable biomass).

The most recent research is published in the Wiley journal ChemSusChem (Chemistry and Sustainability), in the article "Spontaneous High-Yield Production of Hydrogen from Cellulosic Materials and Water Catalyzed by Enzyme Cocktails," by Virginia Tech student Xinhao Ye and post doctoral associate Yiran Wang, both in biological systems engineering; Robert C. Hopkins and Michael W. W. Adams of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia; Barbara R. Evans and Mielenz of the ORNL Chemical Sciences and Biosciences Divisions, respectively; and Zhang.

The research is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research; Zhang's DuPont Young Professor Award, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

For more information about Dr. Zhang's work, visit: http://www.sugarcar.com


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wei-Dong Huang, Y.-H. Percival Zhang. Analysis of biofuels production from sugar based on three criteria: Thermodynamics, bioenergetics, and product separation. Energy & Environmental Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1039/C0EE00069H

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101227100824.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2011, January 2). Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101227100824.htm
Virginia Tech. "Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101227100824.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Industry's Optimism Shines At New York Auto Show

Industry's Optimism Shines At New York Auto Show

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) After seeing auto sales grow last month, there's plenty for the industry to celebrate as it rolls out its newest designs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Mustang Fetes Its 50th Atop Empire State Building

Ford Mustang Fetes Its 50th Atop Empire State Building

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) Ford celebrated the 50th birthday of its beloved Mustang by displaying a new model of the convertible on top of the Empire State Building in New York. Duration: 00:28 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins