This project addresses two USDA-NIFA priority areas: climate change and, especially, sustainable energy. It does so through work on a cellulase enzyme, which breaks down cellulose to glucose and short chains of glucose molecules (oligosaccharides). The glucose can be fermented to make ethanol and other fuels, while the short glucose chains can be made into plastics. The impacts are of two kinds. (1)Glucose, the product of cellulase action on cellulose, can be converted by microorganisms to fuels. Ethanol is the most common such fuel as present, but technologies exist and are under development to use microorganisms to convert it to fuels of higher energy content such as jet fuel. In the process of deriving fuels from cellulose we derive environmental benefits, as well, in that by replacing fossil fuels by biologically produced fuels, we reduce the carbon dioxide burden on the atmosphere. Global climate change can thus be ameliorated. (2)Because the methodology is general and can be applied to virtually any enzyme, the chemical industry will be able to replace processes that produce toxic by-products and/or that use toxic solvents by processes having few or no by-products and that use plain water as the solvent.
|Effective start/end date||10/1/10 → 9/30/15|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))