U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Searchable Research Highlights



One-Stop “Shopping” for Biofuels: A Breakthrough in Consolidated Bioprocessing
Published: March 07, 2011
Posted: March 17, 2011

In most current biomass-to-biofuel strategies, plant material must be first broken down into its component sugars and then converted to ethanol in a separate step, resulting in a costly and inefficient process. Researchers at the DOE Bioenergy Science Center (BESC) and the University of California, Los Angeles, have now successfully engineered the cellulose-degrading bacterium Clostridium cellulolyticum to convert cellulose directly to isobutanol, a liquid fuel with much higher energy density than ethanol and, unlike ethanol, with the potential to be directly used in current engines. This consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) approach, in which a single organism both deconstructs plant cellulose and converts it to a biofuel in one step, significantly improves overall process efficiency. Until now no single microbe was known to possess the necessary combination of biomass degradation and fuel synthesis properties, and the most promising organisms are extremely challenging to genetically manipulate. This breakthrough thus provides a promising new avenue to engineer similar organisms for single-step conversion of plant biomass to fuels.

Reference: Higashide, W., Y. Li, Y. Yang, and J. C. Liao. 2011. “Metabolic Engineering of Clostridium cellulolyticumfor Isobutanol Production from Cellulose,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, published online March 4, 2011 (doi:10.1128/AEM.02454-10).

Contact: Joseph Graber, SC-23.2, (301) 903-1239
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)
  • Research Area: Biological Engineering
  • Mission Science: Sustainable Biofuels

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Nov 01, 2017
Rapid Characterization of Northern Cold-Region Soil Organic Matter
Infrared spectroscopy discriminated variations in soil properties and extent of organic matter d [more...]

Sep 06, 2017
Terrestrial Biosphere Models Underestimate Photosynthetic Capacity and CO2 Assimilation in the Arctic
New measurements of photosynthesis in the Arctic demonstrate that current models underestimate k [more...]

Sep 05, 2017
A New Approach to Represent Multi-Consumer, Multi-Species Soil Biogeochemical Reactions for Earth System Models
A new kinetics formulation (SUPECA) scales mixed reaction networks. < [more...]

Aug 25, 2017
Shaking Up Atmospheric Assumptions
Researchers used long-term ARM data to gain a new understanding of the vertical structure of tur [more...]

Aug 07, 2017
A Multi-Species Synthesis of Physiological Mechanisms in Drought-Induced Tree Mortality
The Science   This is the first paper to synthesize the results on m [more...]