Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wood chips to biofuel in hours

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Summary:
Until now, it has taken weeks to make biofuel from trees. This slow pace has been a bottleneck for the industry. Researchers have now shortened the process to a few hours.

Until now, it has taken weeks to make biofuel from trees. This slow pace has been a bottleneck for the industry. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have now shortened the process to a few hours.

"The time when we use food stock to make biofuel to power a car may soon come to an end. Currently, maize and sugar cane are used to produce biofuel," says Finn Lillelund Aachmann, a biotechnology researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Aachmann thinks that the desire for people to have environmentally friendly fuel should not be at the expense of food. But turning trees -- wood chips and sawdust -- into biofuel in hours promises new profitability for the Norwegian forestry and woodprocessing industries, now that the demand for paper is on the decline.

Tiny Wood Chip Machine

The biggest challenge in making biofuel from wood to date has been that it is a time-consuming process. In fact, it can take several weeks to make biofuel for cars. This slow transformation of wood chips into ethanol has been a bottleneck for companies that want to make money from the process. With a new super enzyme on their side, the process can be completed in hours.

The super enzyme works like a tiny wood machine that scratches up the surface of the wood so that other enzymes can gain access and break the hard surface down into sugar. The enzyme quite simply shoots holes into the wood surface with the help of oxygen bullets.

A Need For Deeper Understanding

This super enzyme was discovered by researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB). The discovery was published in the international journal Science in 2010. In 2011, the world's largest enzyme producer, Novozymes, bought the enzyme technology patent from UMB. But the company needed a closer understanding of how the enzyme works.

NTNU's Aachmann has used NMR technology to learn more about the super enzyme. Nuclear magnetic resonance technology permits the detailed study of each nucleus of a molecule. Molecules are the smallest components of all biological and chemical processes. NMR technology is used to determine the molecular structure of anything from organic compounds to proteins, and the technology is the basis for a whole range of disciplines in both research and industry.

"NMR technology gives us a new understanding of the super enzyme, which makes it possible for us to improve the use of the enzyme even more. This is of great importance if we are to create a more financially profitable and efficient process for producers," says Aachmann.

Strengthened Cooperation

Norway's three largest universities are now in the process of strengthening their cooperation on research that relies on NMR technology. The initiative is of national importance, and will contribute significantly in helping the Norwegian government reach its goals over the next few decades for biotechnology, nanotechnology and bio-prospecting.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Wood chips to biofuel in hours." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090804.htm>.
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). (2013, October 23). Wood chips to biofuel in hours. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090804.htm
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). "Wood chips to biofuel in hours." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090804.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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