Latest Hemicellulose Stories
Scientists have scoured cow rumens and termite guts for microbes that can efficiently break down plant cell walls for the production of next-generation biofuels, but some of the best microbial candidates actually may reside in the human lower intestine, researchers report.
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Researchers studying more effective ways to convert woody plant matter into biofuels at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have identified fundamental forces that change plant structures during pretreatment processes used in the production of bioenergy.
Industry is already making use of rare sugars as low-calorie sweeteners, and as precursors of anti-cancer and antiviral medicines. However, their high cost has impeded research and use: it is not possible to isolate significant amounts of rare sugars directly from nature, and consequently their production has been expensive.
Studies of bacteria first found in Yellowstone's hot springs are furthering efforts at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center toward commercially viable ethanol production from crops such as switchgrass.
Most commonly used raw materials in butanol production have so far been starch and cane sugar.
In 1925, Henry Ford observed that fuel is present in all vegetative matter that can be fermented and predicted that Americans would someday grow their own fuel.
Adding a pretreatment step would allow producers to get more ethanol from switchgrass harvested in the fall.
New insight into the structure of switchgrass and poplars is fueling discussions that could result in more efficient methods to turn biomass into biofuel.
For the first time ever, University of Illinois researchers have discovered how microbes break down hemicellulose plant matter into simple sugars using a cow rumen bacterium as a model.