Sandia biochemist Joanne Volponi prepares enzyme sample for assaying.
Enzymes are capable of breaking down plant material and converting it to liquid fuel efficiently. Researchers are studying ways to make biofuels from plant materials called lignocellulosic ethanol. If the enzymes can be enlisted to do much of the chemical deconstruction work, they might unlock a new transportation economy based on ethanol derived from candidate plants other than corn. Lignocellulose, one of the most abundant renewable organic materials on Earth, is a mix of complex sugars and lignin that gives strength and structure to plant cell walls. The produce fuel ethanol, lignocellulose is with the help of enzymes or acids, broken down and converted to glucose, or sugar. The glucose is then fermented to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. The project is a component of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a partnership of Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national Laboratories and three research universities in the San Francisco Bay Area, funded by DOE's Office of Science.
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June 5, 2014
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