Virginia Tech researchers have found a way to eliminate a step when converting biomass to fuel, reducing the cost of biofuel production. Here is a press release from Virginia Tech:
Conversion of biomass to fuel requires several steps: chemical pretreatment to break up the biomass, such as with dilute sulfuric acid; detoxification to remove the toxic chemicals; then microbial fermentation to convert the soluble sugars to fuels. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered an enzyme mixture that works in the presence of the toxin-infused liquid biomass, meaning that the detoxification step is unnecessary, reducing the cost of producing biofuels and increasing biofuel yields by avoiding the production of by-products and synthesis of cell mass.
The research will be published in the Feb. 25 print issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology.
“Enzymes self-assemble a cell-free synthetic pathway; that is, we can put the desired biological reactions to work without the other complex interactions that take place within a cell,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. “The cell-free synthetic pathway process increases efficiency and reaction rate.” Read more »