From: Rutgers University
Published July 5, 2017 03:13 PM

Cutting the Cost of Ethanol, Other Biofuels and Gasoline

Biofuels like the ethanol in U.S. gasoline could get cheaper thanks to experts at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Michigan State University.

They’ve demonstrated how to design and genetically engineer enzyme surfaces so they bind less to corn stalks and other cellulosic biomass, reducing enzyme costs in biofuels production, according to a study published this month on the cover of the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

“The bottom line is we can cut down the cost of converting biomass into biofuels,” said Shishir P. S. Chundawat, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Typically, the enzymes tapped to help turn switchgrass, corn stover (corn stalks, leaves and other leftovers) and poplar into biofuels amount to about 20 percent of production costs, said Chundawat, whose department is in the School of Engineering. Enzymes cost about 50 cents per gallon of ethanol, so recycling or using fewer enzymes would make biofuels more inexpensive.

Read more at Rutgers University

Image: Enzymes, genetically engineered to avoid sticking to the surfaces of biomass such as corn stalks, may lower costs in the production of cellulose-based biofuels like ethanol. (Credit: Shishir Chundawat/Rutgers University and U.S. Department of Energy.)

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