Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tough Little Bug Smashes Down Wall Between Us And Sustainable Biofuel

Posted: 15 Feb 2013 05:37 AM PST
The biofuel fuel vs. food debate has really been getting a workout this year, especially in the U.S. where a historic, devastating drought has put the squeeze on corn ethanol. More sustainable biofuel crops like perennial grasses and shrub willow are under development, but the sugars in plants like these are locked away behind tough, woody cell walls, and getting at them can be a costly process. Now researchers at Brown University have found a bacteria called Streptomyces, which could be deployed as a microscopic “biorefinery” to get the job done.

Brown researchers explore Streptomyces to make biofuelBiofuel from Bacteria

With soft biomass such as cow manure, a microbe-based biofuel process can be relatively quick and inexpensive, and it is already being deployed commercially with a push from the Department of Agriculture’s AgStar program.

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