Two new publicly available web-based software tools developed at Berkeley Lab, with funding support from the U.S Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office, aim to help researchers and companies quickly test different scenarios and explore viable bio-based fuels and products without ever stepping foot in the lab.
Jay Keasling, Chief Executive Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and Senior Faculty Scientist in BSE, was interviewed by Cimpatico TV on how bioengineering can solve global challenges.
Every day the average person encounters tens, if not hundreds, of items that are made from petroleum and petroleum-based components. From the keyboard this article was typed with, to our daily grooming products and their containers, and the textiles we wear – petroleum products are everywhere: be it plastics, fragrances, dyes, or additives. Not only is petroleum in limited supply, the refining and production processes can cause air pollution and other environmentally unfriendly effects.
Several programs and research groups within the Biosciences area are working hard to find biologically derived components to find a sustainable and high-quality replacement for those that come from petroleum. Read on for a round-up of just some of the research we are doing to create sustainable bioproducts.
Reliance on petroleum fuels and raging wildfires: Two separate, large-scale challenges that could be addressed by one scientific breakthrough.
Woody debris (or biomass) is in extremely abundant supply, and disposal, whether an intentional burn or an accidental wildfire, is a major source of air pollution. Researchers from the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) have collaborated to develop a streamlined and efficient process for converting woody plant matter like forest overgrowth and agricultural waste into liquid biofuel. This research was published recently in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
Sorghum is a promising bioenergy crop. However, the thick secondary cell walls of the stems of this plant are difficult to break down into components that could become fuel. Recent research led by the Joint BioEnergy Institute on structural details of specific molecules and their interactions in sorghum grass cell walls suggests ways to ease deconstruction of this bioenergy crop.