A multidisciplinary Berkeley Lab team led by the Joint Bioenergy Institute’s Corinne Scown and the Molecular Foundry’s Brett Helms, has been working for several years to develop a game-changing plastic that, unlike traditional plastics, can be recycled indefinitely and is not made from petroleum. Scown and Helms spoke with Berkeley Lab on the inspiration for this plastic, shortfalls in our current recycling systems, and how this ambitious project is enabled by a diverse combination of scientific expertise.
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.