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Friday, 04 September 2009

EU funds waste biofuel project

European institutes and companies have begun work on a multi-million Euro effort to develop manufacturing methods for liquid biofuel from agricultural and forestry waste. The NEMO (Novel high performance enzymes and micro-organisms for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol) project has received €5.9m funding from the European Union. Agricultural and forestry waste, such as straw and wood chips, are mainly lignocellulose. This consists of sugars but in a form that makes them difficult to be used by microbes in the production of ethanol. Over the next four years, researchers in the NEMO project will develop enzymes that can be used to cut lignocellulose into sugar compounds suitable for fermentation. The goal will be to tailor the metabolism of microbes so that they can produce large volumes of ethanol out of the biomass sugars economically and efficiently. The researchers will then evaluate the suitability of the developed enzymes and yeast strains for industrial biofuel manufacturing processes. Nearly all biofuel is produced using the first generation technology, which is mainly based on the use of sucrose contained in sugarcane or starch-based glucose contained in corn as raw material. Apart from the sugarcane, the current production methods are not energy efficient enough and their impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions is not sufficient.
Source: Checkbiotech/The Engineer