A group of biofuel experts led by Berkeley Lab took inspiration from an extraordinary antifungal molecule made by Streptomyces bacteria to develop a totally new type of fuel that has projected energy density greater than the most advanced heavy-duty fuels used today, including the rocket fuels used by NASA.
Biosciences Area staff recently hosted 40 PhD students from Wageningen University in the Netherlands over two days at Emery Station East (ESE) and the Integrative Genomics Building (IGB). The group launched their two-week California tour in the Bay Area, stopping by local biotechnology companies and prominent academic research institutions. The contingent visited ESE to tour the facility, make presentations, and discuss potential collaborations. At the IGB, the students attended a day-long symposium that included short talks, tours of several user facilities, and a poster reception.
Three Berkeley Lab projects were awarded more than $2 million from the DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) to further collaborative research and development with industry partners on radioactivity detecting technology, next generation electrodes for electrolysis of water, and high performance sustainable aviation fuel. In addition, industry partners are matching the DOE funds for an additional $2 million. A project from the Biosciences Area was among those awarded, funding the scale-up of a high-performance sustainable aviation fuel.
A project led by Eric Sundstrom, a research scientist at the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU), combines biology and electrochemistry to produce complex molecules, all powered by renewable energy. Sundstrom spoke with Berkeley Lab on how this technology could help combat climate change.
The projects of 14 Biosciences Area scientists and engineers received funding through the FY20 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. The funded projects span a diverse array of topics and approaches including: developing closed-loop plastics from biogenic feedstocks; reimagining a root system optimized for plant-microbe interactions; and creating computational tools for extracting macromolecular conformational dynamics. Lab-wide, 96 projects were selected from a field of 168 proposals. Biosciences Area efforts account for 18.5 percent of the $23 million allocated.