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Browse Biomass and Biofuels Marketing Summaries

Biomass and Biofuels Technology Marketing Summaries

Here you’ll find marketing summaries of biomass and biofuels technologies available for licensing from U.S. Department of Energy laboratories and participating research institutions. The summaries provide descriptions of the technologies including their benefits, applications and industries, and development stage.

151 Technology Marketing Summaries
CategoryTitle and AbstractLaboratoriesDate
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Producing Linear Alpha Olefins From Biomass

Linear alpha olefins (LAOs) are valuable commodity chemicals traditionally derived from petroleum. They are versatile building blocks for making a range of chemical products like polyethylene, synthetic oils, plasticizers, detergents and oilfield fluids.

Relying on fossil fuel to manufacture LAOs is problematic. Not only are the standard methods unsustainable, but they also do not allow for the formation of LAOs with odd carbon numbers and they result in a distribution of LAOs with... read more

04/14/2014
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Concentrated C5 and C6 Sugars from Biomass

Widespread production of sustainable fuels and chemicals will require cost-effective methods for breaking down biomass into its constituent sugars. Attaining high yields of concentrated C5 and C6 carbohydrates (e.g., xylose and glucose) is particularly challenging. Many processes have been tested but all have drawbacks such as very high temperatures or expensive acids and enzymes.

Clearly needed is a process for extracting both types of sugar under more practical reaction conditions.

04/14/2014
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Biofuel-Producing Lactobacillus Strain

Microbial transformation of biomass into biofuels remains an important part of the United States’ strategy to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. To produce ethanol from biomass, microbes must be able to efficiently metabolize plant sugars into ethanol under industrial fermentation stresses.

Naturally occurring microorganisms have not evolved to thrive in such industrial processes. Researchers have approached this problem by engineering strains that leverage the genetic... read more

04/14/2014
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Powerful New Enzyme for Transforming Biomass

Converting plant cellulose and hemicellulose into fermentable sugars is a major bottleneck in the biofuel industry. Chemical pretreatment and enzyme hydrolysis (breakdown) usually are required.

Among chemical pretreatments, ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX) alkaline pretreatment has many advantages. For example, it is a dry process and results in cleaved lignin-carbohydrate complexes without physical extraction. A variation on the process, called extractive AFEX, leads to the production of... read more

04/14/2014
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Modified Microbes Tolerate 50-Fold More Organic Acid

Production of industrial chemicals has long relied on petroleum-based starting material. As reserves of fossil carbon dwindle, a new approach is looking to microorganisms and their ability to convert renewable sources into valuable chemicals.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently targeted several ‘building block’ chemicals that could be produced from renewable resources. One such target is 3HP (3-hydroxypropionic acid), which readily is transformed into commodity... read more

04/14/2014
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A Single Multi-Functional Enzyme for Efficient Biomass Conversion

Lignocellulosic biomass is an abundant source of fermentable sugars, and biofuels derived from these renewable sources represent one of the best alternatives to petroleum-based fuels. Efficient conversion of lignocellulosic biomass, however, remains a challenge due to its inherent recalcitrance. Given the current state of technology of simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SFF) and the commercial enzyme cocktails available, various chemical and thermal pretreatment steps are... read more

02/10/2014
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Clostridium Thermocellum CbhA- Amino acid sequence modified for enhanced catalytic activity in the saccharification of cellulose

The efficient action of cellulases to release fermentable sugars from biomass cellulose is an important step in making biomass-derived products economically viable. Despite efforts to engineer cellulases with significantly improved activities, few successes have been demonstrated.  Prior cellulase engineering has focused upon screening small sets of rationally guided mutations for higher thermal stability and subsequent modest gains in activity at higher conversion temperatures.... read more

01/06/2014
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Folium - Biofuels from Tobacco

FOLIUM is a research project aimed at producing high-density liquid fuels in the green biomass of tobacco. By introducing genetic material from microorganisms and other plants, tobacco can synthesize hydrocarbon fuels in its leaves and stems. Also, tobacco can be engineered to increase efficiency of CO2 uptake and solar energy capture. Coupled with improvements in agricultural practices, these approaches will increase the yield of fuel production in tobacco.  

12/20/2013
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Solid Double-Layered Hydroxide Catalysts for Lignin Decomposition

Biomass-based fuel and chemical production has shown significant promise.  However, costs and utilization rates of biomass have still been a challenge for large scale commercialization.  Through appropriate decomposition and treatment, biomass can be transformed into many of the same chemicals and fuels as petroleum-based products. Most research has focused on biomass with heavy sugar and starch content such as corn. Recent work has focused on lignocellulosic biomass such as... read more

11/20/2013
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Thermally efficient PEM fuel cell that runs on ethanol
  • PEM fuel cell with onboard conversion of ethanol into hydrogen fuel
  • Liquid ethanol feedstock eliminates problems with storage and transportation of gaseous hydrogen
  • Control of temperature maximizes selectivity of reformation process and prevents membrane fouling
  • Integrated system enables effective heat management and maximizes fuel cell efficiency
11/05/2013
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Thermally efficient PEM fuel cell that runs on ethanol
  • PEM fuel cell with onboard conversion of ethanol into hydrogen fuel
  • Liquid ethanol feedstock eliminates problems with storage and transportation of gaseous hydrogen
  • Control of temperature maximizes selectivity of reformation process and prevents membrane fouling
  • Integrated system enables effective heat management and maximizes fuel cell efficiency
11/05/2013
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High-Speed, Stereoselective Polymerization for Renewable, Bio-Derived Plastics

Fabrication of polymers and plastics from naturally renewable feedstocks offers the potential for a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to petroleum-based polymers. Biomass-derived polymers based on butyrolactones are a potential substitute for petroleum-derived polyacrylic plastics, but methods suitable for large-scale production have been unknown previously.

11/05/2013
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Directing Biomolecules to Intracellular Microcompartments and Scaffolds

Cheryl Kerfeld and James Kinney at Berkeley Lab have identified peptide targeting signals that can direct selected enzymes, metabolites, and other macromolecules to microcompartments or scaffolds used to engineer reactions in cells and non-cellular systems.

To achieve methods of inserting microcompartments into cells and nonliving vesicles to engineer desirable reactions, a targeting signal can be required to bring the enzymes and necessary reaction components to the microcompartment or... read more

10/21/2013
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Energy Crops Engineered for Increased Sugar Extraction through Inhibition of snl6 Expression

Pamela Ronald and a team of researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered plants with inhibited expression of snl6, a cinnamoyl-CoA reductase-like (CCR-like) gene. As a result, the JBEI plants have reduced lignin or phenolic compounds compared to wild type plants and yield an increase of up to 10 percent of sugar extracted. The JBEI technology can be applied to a wide range of plants including rice, miscanthus, switchgrass, sugarcane, sugar beet, sorghum and corn, among... read more

10/21/2013
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Improved Algae-based Biorefining and High-throughput Screening of Algal Photosynthetic Efficiency

Improved Algae-based Biorefining and High-throughput Screening of Algal Photosynthetic Efficiency

10/17/2013
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Genes and Mechanisms for Improving Cellulosic Ethanol Production in E. Coli

Cellulosic biomass accounts for roughly 75% of all plant material, and can be used to produce biofuels. Sources of cellulosic biomass include agricultural plant waste, organic waste from industrial processes, and crops grown specifically for fuel production. Biological conversion makes use of enzymes and microorganisms to convert pretreated cellulosic biomass into biofuels. In particular, Escherichia coli is a well-studied micro-organism commonly used in large-scale fermentations. In... read more

10/17/2013
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Rapid Solar-Thermal Conversion of Biomass to Syngas

The invention provides processes that perform biomass gasification or pyrolysis for production of hydrogen, synthesis gas, liquid fuels, or other hydrocarbon based chemicals. The methods of the invention use solar thermal energy as the energy source for the biomass pyrolysis or gasification. This allows operation at temperatures above 950 degrees C, speeding up reaction kinetics and shifting thermodynamics to various reaction end products, thus, bypassing the formation of tars and other... read more

10/17/2013
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Modified Yeast Ferments Biomass Xylose

Producing biofuel on a useful scale requires efficient fermentation of cellulosic plant material. The sugars glucose and xylose are the most abundant carbohydrates found in hemicellulose. The yeast most commonly utilized for industrial fermentation – Saccharomyces cerevisiae – can ferment glucose but not xylose.

By studying the genomes of wild strains of yeast capable of utilizing both sugars, researchers hope to identify genes capable of enhancing fermentation. The ultimate... read more

09/10/2013
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Modified Yeast Ferments Biomass Xylose

Producing biofuel on a useful scale requires efficient fermentation of cellulosic plant material. The sugars glucose and xylose are the most abundant carbohydrates found in hemicellulose. The yeast most commonly utilized for industrial fermentation – Saccharomyces cerevisiae – can ferment glucose but not xylose.

By studying the genomes of wild strains of yeast capable of utilizing both sugars, researchers hope to identify genes capable of enhancing fermentation. The ultimate... read more

09/10/2013
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Modified Yeast Show Improved Xylose Fermentation and Toxin Tolerance

Bleaching plant material with alkaline hydrogen peroxide (AHP) is an old process used for papermaking. Several decades ago researchers suggested that this method also could be used in biofuel production. The method involves treating switchgrass or corn stover with hydrogen peroxide under basic conditions. However, before enzymatic conversion can yield useful quantifies of glucose and xylose, the pH of the mixture must be adjusted to acidic conditions.

Unfortunately, this pretreatment... read more

09/10/2013
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Renewable Plastic from Glucose-Fed Microbes

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are a class of polyesters naturally produced by bacteria. PHA has structural properties that make it attractive as a renewable plastic. Especially promising is medium chain-length PHA (mcl-PHA), which consists of fatty acids containing six or more carbons. This form of PHA could be useful in medical devices, cosmetics and tissue engineering.

Most naturally produced PHA contains random monomeric sequences undesirable for commercial use. Fortunately, its... read more

09/10/2013
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Enhanced Biomass Digestion with Wood Wasp Bacteria

Plant biomass represents a vast and renewable source of energy. However, harnessing this energy requires breaking down tough lignin and cellulose cell walls. In nature, certain microbes can deconstruct biomass into simple sugars by secreting combinations of enzymes.

Two organisms that utilize cellulose are Clostridium thermocellum – a slow-growing fungus – and Trichoderma reesei. Both are well-known and relied upon in the biomass field. Yet research suggests another... read more

09/10/2013
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Catalysts for Syngas-Derived Alcohol Synthesis

This technology provides an advantageous means to convert syngas into a class of chemicals known as higher oxygenates as well as other long-chain hydrocarbons. Research is currently active on this patent-pending technology "Synthesis, Characterization, and Catalytic Activity of Rh-based Lanthanum Zirconate Pyrochlores for Higher Alcohol Synthesis." This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy's National... read more

05/03/2013
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Process for Converting Algal Oil to Alternative Aviation Fuel

Conversion of triglyceride oils extracted from algae-derived lipids into aircraft fuel is a critical goal development for our national energy security. romising research at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), funded through the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bio-products (NAABB) algal biofuels consortium, has demonstrated a Kolbe-based chemical conversion process with very high hydrocarbon yields.

04/04/2013
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Trojan Horse Project

Sandia researchers have developed a technology that could potentially turn agricultural waste, weeds and other plant products that are typically discarded or destroyed into fuel.  The idea is to create consolidated biorefinery process inside plant cells. 

03/12/2013
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Micro-Pyrolizer for Rapid Bio-Identification
Sandia has developed a micro-fabricated device for identifying different organisms by their unique chemical “fingerprint” based on fatty acid (lipid) content. Applications can include food composition testing (testing the purity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil), microbe analysis (e.g. Anthrax and virulent bacteria), high value/specialty crop verification (designer seeds, bio-fuels), and unknown substance testing.
03/12/2013
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Designer Catalysts for Next Generation Fuel Synthesis
Transition Metal Sulfides (TMS), such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), are the petroleum industry’s “workhorse” catalysts for upgrading heavy petroleum feed stocks and removing sulfur, nitrogen and other pollutants from fuels. This improved synthesis technique produces single layer transition metal sulfide (SLTMS) catalysts, such as molybdenum disulfide, with potentially greater activity and specificity than those currently available.
03/12/2013
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Engineering Biofuels from Photosynthetic Bacteria

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created a method to produce biofuels from agricultural feedstocks. The method combines both engineered and natural photosynthetic materials to generate the fuel, which can be used directly or mixed with other fuels without further refining. This method may provide a means to affordably and efficiently produce biofuels that will reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.

02/11/2013
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SpinDx™ Lab on a Disk

Currently, when a patient arrives at the hospital or doctor’s office feeling ill, they are first examined by the doctor, sent to a blood lab where vials of blood are taken, and then sent home to wait for results. This approach often means patients must wait days or weeks, to get results. During that waiting period, they are not receiving treatment, which can be a critical factor for cancer, heart attack, or stroke patients. 

Sandia researchers have developed a break-through... read more

01/18/2013
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Mild, Nontoxic Production of Fuels and Chemicals from Biomass

Fossil fuel resources supply almost 90 percent of the world’s energy and the vast majority of its organic chemicals. This dependency is insupportable in light of rising emissions, demand and diminishing access.

Abundant, renewable biomass is an emerging alternative. But if biomass is to supplant oil, coal and gas as an energy and chemical resource, it must match the wide array of products derived from those traditional sources. In addition to liquid fuel, vital products like ... read more

01/15/2013
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More Efficient Ethanol Production from Mixed Sugars Using Spathaspora Yeast
Ethanol obtained from the fermentation of grains and sugars is being blended with gasoline to bolster dwindling petroleum supplies. The alcohol increases combustion efficiency and octane value, and can be fermented from renewable corn cobs, stalks, cane and grasses. Still, it is essential that industry-scale production does not compete with food or push agriculture into forests and other vulnerable lands. Clearly, efficiency is critical. One obstacle currently limiting renewable... read more
01/15/2013
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Cellulosome preparations for cellulose hydrolysis

With the annual potential of over 1.3 billion dry tons of biomass, the prospective growth of biomass related industries is tremendous. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) leads the DOE’s National Bioenergy Center, with research spanning the full spectrum from fundamental science to demonstration in fully integrated pilot plant scale operations. Plant cell walls represent a vast renewable carbon source. Biofuels derived from plant cell wall material is a promising renewable... read more

01/14/2013
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Chimeric enzymes with improved cellulase activities

Demand for the production of bio-based fuels is on the rise around the world and in the United States due to a growing desire to overcome dependency on petroleum derived fuels.  Furthermore, there is a strong desire to produce bio-based fuels from renewable cellulosic materials from non-food based feedstocks such as crop residues, woodchips, dedicated energy crops, industrial and other waste sources.  This practice would lessen the utilization of food crops for humans and livestock as... read more

01/07/2013
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Material to Efficiently and Economically Obtain Microorganism and Microalgae
Technology provides an economical and efficient process to harvest microorganisms like microalgae from its growth media.
12/06/2012
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Sorbent Assisted Catalyst for the One-Pot Sequestration and Conversion of Renewable Feedstocks into Fuels
Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a technology that provides a simplified and economical production of hydrocarbon fuel from renewable resources with higher energy potential compared to ethanol or biodiesel. The ability to achieve higher yields from lipid feedstock, and in particular algae oils, by not utilizing current methods of fatty acid conversion to methyl ester, makes this technology economically attractive.
12/06/2012
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Degradation of Algal Cell Walls by Enzymes and Dyes

With the annual potential of over 1.3 billion dry tons of biomass, the prospective growth of biofuels is great. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) leads the DOE’s National Bioenergy Center, with research spanning the full spectrum from fundamental science to demonstration in fully integrated pilot plants.

The distinguishing aspects are that currently, lipid extraction from algae is a difficult process and is performed with solvents or high pressure. These processes use... read more

11/30/2012
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Cellulase Enzymes for the Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels and Chemicals

Cellulose is the most abundant renewable fuel resource on Earth, accounting for about half of the organic material in the biosphere, and is the major polysaccharide found in plant biomass. Cellulosic biomass is a favorable feedstock for fuel ethanol production because it is both readily available and less expensive than either corn or sugarcane. A typical biomass feedstock is comprised of approximately 30-45% cellulose, 30-40% hemicelluloses, 15% lignin and 10% of other components.... read more

10/11/2012
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Highly Active and Lower Cost Nanoparticle Catalyst for Producing Biofuel and Feedstock Chemicals

Biofuels such as ethanol are already in use as alternatives to fossil fuels. These man-made fuels help to offset carbon dioxide emissions and are a sustainable source of power. Unfortunately, they are generally made from materials that could be used as human food, causing shortages and raising food prices worldwide. As a result, researchers are investigating means to turn inedible biomass sources, like sawdust, into biofuels, but are struggling to find viable, cost-effective methods to do so.... read more

09/27/2012
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Early Stage R&DPlant Pathogen Resistance
Crop plants are infected by numerous fungal and bacterial pathogens that reduce crop quality and yield. Common methods for addessing this problem include time consuming processes such as genetic engeneering, and possibly enviromentally risky processes, such as treatment of plants via synthetic anti?pathogen compounds.


09/24/2012
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Giga-Dalton Mass Spectrometry
Current techniques to study large bio?molecules using mass spectrometer require fragmentation for the mass?to?charge ratios to be within the working range of the mass spectrometer. Analysis of the data is complex and often requires simulation supported by fragmentation libraries. Furthermore, the working range of the mass spectrometer is limited to the Kilo?Dalton range and offered by high end expensive instruments. These are major limiting factors in the applications of mass spectrometry for... read more
09/24/2012
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Early Stage R&DOptimization of Industrial Enzymes
Enzymes are highly efficient naturally occurring catalysts that are used in a wide range of applications from industrial processes to new drug development. Conventional mechanism for understanding the mechanisms of enzyme functions are costly and time consuming. Moreover, many applications do not increase the activity energy to be applied to enzymes with slow reaction rates.


09/21/2012
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Biofuels – Biomass Feedstock

INL’s process enables an agricultural combine to separate multiple products , e.g. agricultural residue, grain, etc. in a single pass across a field. The remaining material will pass through a secondary thresher separate internodal stem from the plant material and then passed to baler. The crops or plant material which could benefit from this product include: wheat, barley, corn, or it could be utilized by grain crops, cereal crops and legumes.

08/31/2012
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Biofuels – Jet fuel

This is a process for producing jet fuel from biological feed stock, including animal fats and oils, vegetable oils, and crop seed oils. The aviation and fuel-producing communities would have the option of leveraging available renewable and/or nonrenewable jet fuel sources. The oils and fats can be distilled, separated, and purified to change fuel composition, weights, etc.  In certain situations oils can be hydrocracked to produce smaller molecular weights and different catalysts,... read more

08/31/2012
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Geospatial Decision Making System

The INL has developed a geospatial decision making process to assist agricultural producers in optimizing operating conditions of combine harvesters  which detects the presence of grain and distinguishes between that and residual plant material. Upon detecting grain in the process, the system sends an electrical signal which determines the amount of grain being processed in the machine, improving the accuracy of grain-loss sensors and greater efficiency and higher yields. Previous... read more

08/31/2012
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Nanoporous Membranes for Pretreatment of Lignocellulose and Other Applications
Researchers at ORNL have developed an inorganic membrane element and a flowthrough recycle (FTR) process for pretreating lignocellulosic biomass to produce a high-quality ethanol feedstock more amenable to hydrolysis and fermentation than other pretreatment methods. The ORNL process minimizes carbohydrate and lignin degradation while providing a clean sugar stream for further processing.

Producing ethanol from inedible plant matter such as wood and agricultural or forest residues is an... read more
08/21/2012
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Autothermal Partial Oxidation of Ethanol and Alcohols

Autothermal Reforming of Ethanol and Alcohols into Syngas

Ethanol and alcohols can be converted into syngas using a robust autothermal reforming process. Syngas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that can be used to synthesize other chemicals or directly as a fuel. The recent advancements in fuel cell technology have spurred an interest in converting alcohols into hydrogen rich gas streams. This robust method enables the conversion of a nontoxic liquid such as an... read more

08/07/2012
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Bioluminescent Bioreporter Integrated Circuits
To address the need for fieldable real-time biological recognition systems, ORNL researchers developed a "laboratory on a chip" using genetically engineered whole cell biosensors attached to integrated circuits (ICs). These bioluminescent bioreporters can be deployed to assist with environmental detection and analysis during natural and human disasters.
07/11/2012
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Genes for Xylose Fermentation, Enhanced Biofuel Production in Yeast
Efficient fermentation of cellulosic feedstocks is an essential step in the production of biofuel from plant materials. Glucose and xylose are the two most abundant monomeric carbohydrates found in hemicellulose. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast most commonly used for industrial fermentation, is able to utilize glucose but is unable to ferment xylose. However, several Ascomycete yeasts that ferment and assimilate xylose have been identified, including Pichia stipitis, whose genome has... read more
07/02/2012
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One- and Two-Phase Conversion of Biomass to Furfural
Exploiting the energy potential of biomass high in cellulose and lignin—including grasses, shrubs, husks, bark, yard and mill offal not readily digestible by humans—offers a vast and renewable alternative to fossil carbons. In addition to producing gamma-valerolactone (GVL), an organic compound viable in gasoline mixtures, other valuable chemicals can be derived. These include furfuryl acid, used in the manufacture of resins, adhesives, wood treatments, herbicide agents... read more
07/02/2012
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Furanic Modified Amine-based Curatives
Aromatic diamines are currently used as curatives in an array of applications such as polyurea and epoxies. When used as curatives, aromatic diamines have relatively short pot lives (gel times) due to their high reactivity, especially in reactions with polyisocyanates and epoxides. In order to increase their pot lives and provide more even filling of complex molds, Battelle has developed a process for decreasing the reactivity of aromatic diamines by partial amidification with... read more
06/21/2012
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Bio-based Deicing/Anti-Icing Fluids
This invention relates in general to compositions to remove ice, snow and/or frost ("frozen precipitation") from surfaces and/or to prevent ice from forming on surfaces, and in particular to deicing/anti-icing fluids.
06/21/2012
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Protein Stabilized Latex Polymer Emulsions, Methods of Making, and Adhesives Containing Such Emulsions
The invention relates to the stabilization of latex polymer emulsions with soy proteins, and to adhesives formed from the protein-stabilized latex emulsions.
06/21/2012
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Structural Composites with Enhanced Moduli of Elasticity

The invention provides a low cost structural composite alternative for use in typical structural lumber/wood applications in building construction, marine, transportation applications, and the like.

06/21/2012
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Preparation of Propylene Glycol Fatty Acid Ester or Other Glycol, or Polyol Fatty Acid Esters

This technology provides an alternate method to synthesize a key type of PVC plasticizer described in US 6,797,753 (see separate description entitled “Plasticizers Derived from Vegetable Oils”).  This approach uses esters of fatty acids as feed materials and more specifically uses methyl esters of vegetable oils that are referred to as “biodiesel” fuels.  One particularly useful biodiesel is soybean oil biodiesel (methyl soyate) that is projected to be a high... read more

06/11/2012
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Absorbent Protein Meal Based Hydrogels

Non-purified soymeal is used as an inexpensive and biobased reactive filler in preparing high capacity hydrogels. Preparation of these hydrogels involves partial neutralization of acrylic acid, which is subjected to free-radical initiated polymerization in the presence of crosslinkers such as trimethylolpropane triacrylate.  A key approach in obtaining high performance hydrogels involves the removal of low molecular weight acrylic acid oligomers by a simple extraction procedure.

06/11/2012
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Plasticizers Derived from Vegetable Oils

This technology addresses the known health issues of commonly used petroleum-based plasticizers used in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a high volume thermoplastic material (one that is moldable and formed by heating) by providing a biobased and renewable PVC plasticizer with no known adverse health effects.  These PVC plasticizers are derived from soybean oil, but also can be obtained from other vegetable oils.

06/08/2012
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Cellulosic Fiber Composites Using Protein Hydrolysates and Methods of Making Same

This technology relates to cellulosic fiber composites using protein hydrolysates. Cellulosic fiber composites currently use petroleum-derived binders such as isocyanates and phenol formaldehyde. This work fills a need for a new fiber-adhesive, resin binder system that reduces the amount of phenolic and/or isocyanate resin needed.

06/08/2012
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New process to convert lipids and cellulosic biomass to renewable diesel
A research team at the University of Colorado Denver led by Arunprakash Karunanithi has developed a decarboxylation process that will provide pathways to convert two different renewable feedstocks (lipids and waste biomass) directly to renewable diesel without the use of hydrogen.
06/01/2012
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Microbial Capacitive Desalination Cell

A research team led by Dr. Jason Ren of the University of Colorado has developed novel microbial capacitive desalination cell (MCDC) technology for sustainable desalination, renewable energy production, and wastewater treatment solution.

06/01/2012
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Lipid Extraction from Wet-Algae for Biofuel Production
There is a growing interest in algal biofuels; however, current methods of a thermal separation process for solvent mixtures involve concomitant issues and increased energy consumption. A research team at the University of Colorado at Boulder led by John Pellegrino has developed a two-step membrane process which allows a solvent mixture to be used without the problems of concomitants and high energy expenditure that are usually inherent in a thermal separation process.
05/23/2012
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Novel Method of Ethanol/Water Separation with Nanoporous Polymer Membranes

Bioethanol is an economical and environmentally friendly biofuel that has emerged as a sustainable fuel source. Fermentation is an attractive process for producing bioethanol, but requires costly product separation due to the low concentration of the fermentative products. Nanoporous polymer membranes have recently been explored not only in separating water from dissolved solutes in fermentation systems such as this, but also in liquid water purification and desalination. However, attempts at... read more

03/29/2012
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Waste-to-Energy Biomass Digester with Decreased Water Consumption
The enormous amount of biomass waste created by animal feeding operations releases methane, a valuable fuel but also a greenhouse gas, and other pollutants into the environment. Waste digesters reduce this pollution by converting the waste into valuable resources that can be harvested, such as methane gas and compost. The methane produced by digesters can be used on-site to offset energy costs. Anaerobic digesters work by allowing bacteria to break down the waste into compost and methane gas... read more
03/28/2012
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Highly Efficient, Scalable Microbial Fuel Cell

With present day environmental and energy concerns rising, the development of environmentally friendly energy sources is quickly becoming a top priority. One group of alternative energy sources that show great potential to meet future energy demands are bioelectrochemical systems (BES) or microbial fuel cells (MFC), which can be used to both treat waste water and produce energy. Current wastewater treatment processes are energy-intensive due to the power demand for aeration, sludge... read more

03/28/2012
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Heterogeneous Catalyst for Improved Selectivity of Biomass-Derived Molecules

In today’s industrial processes, heterogeneous catalysts are widely used because of their stability and ease of separation from the reactant phase compared to their homogenous counterparts. A continual challenge in the advancement of heterogeneous catalysts is in the improvement of selectivity, which can significantly reduce costs of product purification and waste. Historically, homogenous catalysts offer high selectivity utilizing specific interactions, while heterogeneous catalysts... read more

03/20/2012
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Enhanced Renewable Methane Production System Benefits Wastewater Treatment Plants, Farms, and Landfills

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a low-cost process that accelerates biological methane production rates at least fivefold — the Enhanced Renewable Methane Production System. The system could enhance biological methane production at wastewater treatment plants, farms, and landfills.  This system addresses one of the largest barriers to the expansion of renewable methane — the naturally slow rate of production. To overcome this challenge, Argonne... read more

03/19/2012
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Direct Conversion of Biomass into Transportation Fuels
Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing a portfolio of technologies related to catalytic processes for converting oligosaccharides into hydrocarbons under mild conditions.
03/15/2012
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Nanojunction Sensors for the Detection of chemical and Biological Species
Commercial applications of nanotechnology require reliable and cost-effective methods to mass-fabricate various nanostructured materials and devices. Atomic-scale contacts between metal electrodes have been created mechanically by breaking a fine metal wire and by separating two metal electrodes in contact. The breaking and separating are usually controlled by an apparatus involving stepping motor or piezoelectric transducer. The contacts fabricated by the mechanical methods cannot be removed... read more
03/13/2012
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Reactive Flash Volatilization of Solid, Nonvolatile Fuel

Syngas or Synthesis Gas Created from Biomass using a Catalyst for the Thermal Decomposition of Hydrocarbon with no Char Formation

A biomass gasification process to efficiently create syngas with a reaction time 10 to 100 times faster than current biomass to syngas conversion technologies has been developed. This thermal decomposition of solid carbon and hydrogen containing biomass creates hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide gas without requiring heat inputs (autothermal) and has... read more

03/13/2012
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Binary Cultivation in Photobioreactors
Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a new approach to converting solar energy, water, and CO2 into small molecule precursors, fatty acids, lipids, proteins, and other value-added products. The approach uses binary cultivation—inside photobioreactors—to facilitate growth by creating a closed system in which the metabolic by-products of one organism are used to fuel the metabolism in the other.
02/08/2012
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Magneto-Optic Biosensor Uses Bio-Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles (ANL-IN-05-122)

Magnetic nanoparticles and their broad array of properties are enabling scientists to develop increasingly sensitive, rapid, and cost-effective biological sensors. The sensors promise an array of applications as wide-ranging as the discovery of a new drug or remote detection of toxins or contaminants in air or water.

02/07/2012
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Using Rhodobacter Bacteria to Express Membrane Proteins (ANL-IN-99-089)

Cell membranes serve as the biological structure through which an organism interacts with its environment. Making up the cell membrane are numerous proteins responsible for many processes including nutrient uptake, excreting metabolic waste, and responding to external stimuli.

Because of their unique properties, membrane proteins are difficult to isolate and purify. Most existing systems for expressing heterologous membrane proteins are either costly or suffer from various disadvantages.... read more

02/07/2012
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Low-cost, Rapid DNA Sequencing Technique
A faster, less expensive, more accurate and more reliable method for DNA sequencing has been developed at ORNL. The method takes a high-frequency measurement on a single strand of DNA or RNA deposited on a substrate using an alternating current (AC). The data is used as a criterion to identify the genetic sequence.
10/27/2011
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Method for Preparing Nanoporous Cell-Scaled Reaction Vessels
Researchers at ORNL developed a method to engineer and fabricate nanoscale reaction vessels that mimic biological cells. The picoliter-size reaction vessls have nanoscale pores that allow molecules to enter and exit based on their size, much as molecules do in living cells. This method can eventually be used to contain and create more complex networks. The invention holds great promise for industry and research, where synthetic biologists can match the scale of biological systems and create... read more
10/27/2011
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Universal Gene Transfer Technology for Gram Positive Bacteria
A genetic engineering technology invented at ORNL facilitates DNA delivery to a cell by using ultrasound to permeate the cell’s plasma membrane. DNA delivery using this technology is simple, quick, inexpensive, and offers a universal method for gene transfer.
10/27/2011
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Screening Tool for Providers of Double-Stranded DNA
The invention screens purchase orders submitted to DNA synthesis companies.
10/25/2011
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Catalytic Conversion of Bioethanol to Hydrocarbons
A method for catalytically converting an alcohol to a hydrocarbon without requiring purified or concentrated alcohol was invented by ORNL researchers. This approach can be used for relatively dilute bio-mass produced alcohols, such as those found in a biomass fermentation reactor.
10/25/2011
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Use of Arginase and/or Threonine Deaminase in Plant Protection against Herbivores

Insect pests are a major cause of damage to the world’s commercially important agricultural crops. Current strategies aimed at reducing crop losses rely primarily on chemical pesticides. Transgenic crops with intrinsic pest resistance offer a potential alternative.

 

10/18/2011
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Translation-Coupling Cassette for Quickly and Reliably Monitoring Protein Translation in Host Cells

Bacterial production of recombinant proteins is used commonly by researchers and commercial entities to manufacture a large variety of proteins. However, many proteins are not produced efficiently in bacterial cells and must be produced through a different expression system. In these cases the researcher generally does not realize that protein expression failed until the bacteria are destroyed, the protein isolated and a gel run to detect the presence of the protein, a time-consuming process.

M... read more

10/18/2011
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Production of Oil in Vegetative Tissues
Production of alternative fuels such as biodiesel is on the rise around the world and in the U.S. due to a strong and growing desire to reduce dependency on petroleum-derived diesel fuel. The acceptance of biodiesel has been slowed due to its higher cost relative to petroleum-derived diesel. The higher cost of biodiesel is directly related to the cost of feedstock used for biodiesel production, which is often derived from crops also used for food. The displacement of food crops by energy crops... read more
10/18/2011
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Artificial Cells for Advanced Drug Delivery
This invention takes advantage of the unique surface chemistry of a ZnO crystalline nanostructure to catalyze a variety of chemical reactions.  
10/06/2011
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Computational Method for Detecting and Enhancing Protein Dynamics
ORNL researchers have developed a method that uses simulation and experimental data to detect, analyze, and manipulate protein activity. This approach enables enhancement of the chemical reaction rates of enzymes by many orders of magnitude. More efficient enzymes are widely sought for applications in the biochemical industry, pharmaceuticals, and protein engineering.

Theoretical and computational techniques are particularly useful in discovering and characterizing internal protein dynamics at... read more
10/04/2011
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Bacterial Production of Mixed Metal Oxide Nanoparticles
Researchers at ORNL have developed a method for producing mixed metal oxide nanoparticles using anaerobic bacteria with an electron donor to reduce a metal oxide composition from a higher to a lower oxidation state. This method may be applied to cultures of a variety of metal-reducing bacteria to reduce the toxicity of dopant species to bacteria. In addition, the method provides a means by which bacteria with specifically tailored electron acceptors could facilitate research in bacterial... read more
10/04/2011
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Internal Labeling Technique Tracks Nanoparticle Transport
To track the transport of nanoscale particles and core-shell particles in biological and environmental systems, ORNL researchers developed a way to insert a radioisotope or a fluorophore into the particle as an observable marker. Internalized labeling of nanoparticles leaves the surface intact and available for functionalization with a host of species. No other comparable option for labeled nanoparticles is currently available.

Conventional approaches to surface labeling can cause markers to... read more
10/04/2011
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Imprinting Method for Selective Mesoporous Sorbents
An ORNL invention uses a unique molecular surface imprinting technique to make sorbent materials that can be tailored to target specific molecules. The mesoporous, ordered sorbents can sense, quantify, and remove toxic ions from effluents. The method offers a new class of chemical tools for industrial cleanup processes.

A major challenge facing mining and energy industries is the removal of toxic metal ions from process water or gas. The ORNL invention improves on existing technology by offering... read more
10/04/2011
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Nanopost Arrays Anchor Molecules, Improve Ion Yields for Laser Mass Spectrometry
Silicon nanopost arrays (NAPA) in a broad range of geometries are being developed at ORNL. These can be used as matrices to detect and analyze molecules by laser mass spectrometry: A matrix of nanoposts protects the biomolecule from beam damage and facilitates the vaporization and ionization needed in mass spectrometry. The nanofabricated arrays also provide improved laser ionization yields, so that the molecular samples deposited on them can be detected and identified with great selectivity... read more
10/04/2011
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Microbial Reduction of Furfurals to Furan Alcohols by a Microbial Species
An ORNL researcher developed a method for producing furfuryl alcohol (FA) through bioprocessing using a thermophilic microorganism. This organism has been shown to be highly resistant to the toxic effects of furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and can propagate in the presence of over 48 g/L (500 mM) of furfural.

10/04/2011
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Caloramator sp. Tolerance of Pretreatment Inhibitors from Lignocellulosics
ORNL inventors discovered a novel microorganism that displays exceptional tolerance to several growth inhibitors generated during dilute acid pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass.
10/04/2011
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Microorganisms to Speed Production of Biofuels
Researchers at ORNL developed microorganisms that can quickly overcome the resistance of biomass to breakdown, and improved both the cost and efficiency of the biofuel conversion process.
10/04/2011
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Resin Wafer Electrodeionization Technology Reduces the Cost of Clean Energy, Chemicals, and Industrial Process Water

Argonne National Laboratory has developed a resin wafer electrodeionization technology for processing biomass-based feedstocks into biofuels and chemicals. The new technology reduces the cost of producing clean energy and of the chemicals and process water used in industry.

09/16/2011
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Cofermentation with Cooperative Microorganisms for More Efficient Biomass Conversion
It is well known that biomass has primarily two sources of fermentable carbohydrates, cellulose and hemicelluloses. Research has been underway for decades aimed at both depolymerizing these complex carbohydrates and fermenting them to products of interest such as fuels and chemicals. Common approaches are the addition of enzyme to carry out the hydrolysis (depolymerization) and include a microorganism that can ferment some or all the resulting simple sugars. Various microorganisms have... read more
09/16/2011
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Early Stage R&DBio-based ethylene able to replace petroleum as a feedstock

Ethylene is the most produced gaseous organic compound in the chemical industry and future demand is forecasted to grow at an average of 4.1 % per year.  It is the raw material used to manufacture polymers such as polyethylene, polyester, polyvinyl chloride, and polystyrene as well as fibers and other chemicals used in the industrial and consumer markets of packaging, transportation and construction. It can be used directly as a fuel, or serve as a precursor for longer carbon chain... read more

08/24/2011
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Early Stage R&DBio-based photosynthetic conversion of CO2 and water to replace petroleum feedstock on an industrial scale

Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) is widely used as an organic synthesis intermediate, a medical and biochemical reagent, and as a nutritional additive in food and sports drinks.  Typically, it is produced from a derivative of petroleum and concentrated hydrochloric acid.  However, the rising cost of petroleum has led to the exploration and development of alternative, biological production systems for fuels and chemicals.  Recently, a number of organizations have successfully... read more

08/24/2011
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Efflux Pumps to Increase Microbial Tolerance and Biofuel Production

Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, Jay Keasling, and Mary Dunlop at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a method for providing industrial host microbes with resistance to valuable but potentially toxic molecules, such as solvents and fuel-like compounds. Providing such tolerance is a crucial step in engineering organisms to produce desirable substances. The scientists used efflux pumps to confer resistance on E. coli and developed a library of the most effective pumps for protection... read more

08/22/2011
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BAHD Acyltransferase That Synthesizes Coniferyl Ferulate
Lignin, an abundant polymer of vascular plants that provides structural integrity and resistance to chemical and enzymatic damage to the plant cell wall, is the second most abundant polymer on earth and critical to the strength and survival of terrestrial plants. Unfortunately, its mechanical strength and resistance to chemical degradation, which is so essential for plant health, are problematic when trying to use plants as feedstocks for certain industrial and feed applications.
08/15/2011
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Method to Produce Highly Digestible, Pretreated Lignocellulosic Biomass Using Anhydrous Liquid Ammonia
In the continuing push to develop alternative fuels, bioethanol is clearly a viable option. However, if it is to become a truly economical alternative, a more effective and efficient method of processing lignocellulosic biomass must be developed.
08/15/2011
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Cost-Effective Enzyme for Producing Biofuels from Cellulosic Biomass
Producing biofuels from cellulosic materials, such as corn stalks, wood chips, and other biomass, requires the use of enzymes to degrade the cellulosic biomass into its molecular components. The cost to produce these enzymes is high, a factor contributing to the limited production of cellulosic ethanol.
08/15/2011
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Microfluidic Flow Assay for Measuring Hemostatic Phenotypes
In this invention we report a method for measuring an individual’s ability to form a blood clot. 
06/14/2011
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Multifocal Multiphoton Laser-Scanning Structured Illumination Microscopy with Whole-Field Detection
This invention describes a multiphoton imaging process in conjunction with whole field detection which gives it the ability to penetrate deeper into highly scattering media. 
06/14/2011
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Directed Spontaneous Assembly of Membrane Protein with Amphiphilic Block Copolymers
This invention describes a method for using membrane proteins (MPs) in synthetic systems for biosensor design, high-throughput drug-screening, catalysis or energy harvesting.
06/14/2011
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Increased Lipid Accumulation and Carbohydrate Synthesis in Strains of Microalgae
In this invention we report methods by which various strains of microalgae are manipulated.
06/14/2011
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Magnetic Nanoparticle Capilary Flow as a Replacement for Lateral Flow Chromatography
This invention looks at method to detect targeted analytes.
06/14/2011
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Cell-Free System for Combinatorial Discovery of Enzymes Capable of Transforming Biomass for Biofuels

Biofuels produced from biomass provide a promising alternative to fossil fuels. Biomass is an inexpensive, readily available and renewable resource. However, the process of converting biomass into biofuels is difficult and costly. Biomass consists of insoluble polysaccharides such as cellulose that are difficult to break down into fermentable sugars like glucose.

Many combinations of enzymes and proteins that naturally deconstruct cellulose and other biomass components have been identified,... read more

06/01/2011
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Light-Powered Microbial Fuel Cell Offering Clean, Renewable Hydrogen-Based Alternative Energy Source

One of the greatest challenges of our time is the need for new, renewable sources of energy to offset modern society’s dependence on fossil fuels. One clean technology of interest is a hydrogen-based fuel cell.

A hydrogen fuel cell is comprised of an electrolyte sandwiched between two electrodes. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other, generating electricity, water and heat. In microbial fuel cells (MFC), bacteria convert an organic substrate, such as sugar or waste... read more

06/01/2011
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High-Yielding Method for Converting Biomass to Fermentable Sugars for Biofuel Production

Lignocellulosic biomass is a very desirable feedstock for biofuel production. If the fermentation process for lignocellulose could be optimized, conversion of this biomass could yield 25 to 50 billion gallons of ethanol per year.

However, lignocellulose, which is composed of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, is resistant to chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis. This resistance is a key limiting step in the conversion of biomass into fermentable sugars. Currently, pretreatment steps, which... read more

06/01/2011
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Ethanol Tolerant Yeast for Improved Production of Ethanol from Biomass
Ethanol production from cellulosic biomass can make a significant contribution toward decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels. However, the fermentation of biomass can be problematic. One bottleneck in this process is the toxicity of ethanol to microbes such as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
06/01/2011
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Bacteria Modified to Secrete Biologically Active Protein for Large-Scale Production

E. coli is the most common prokaryote used to produce protein. The expressed protein generally accumulates in the cytoplasm. While this approach is useful for some proteins, not all proteins can be accumulated in the cytoplasm in an active state. When the desired protein is produced at high levels, it may be toxic to the host cell or accumulate as an insoluble particle known as an inclusion body, making it difficult to recover in an active form.

One option is to engineer protein so it is... read more

06/01/2011
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A Source and Production Method for Acetyl-Triacylglycerols (ac-TAGs)
Biodiesel can substitute for conventional petroleum diesel in almost all applications. Oftentimes, use of biodiesel requires engine modification since biodiesel has different solvent properties and often degrades natural rubber. Since use of biodiesel is increasing rapidly, alternative biofuel supplies are needed to accommodate the growing demand.
06/01/2011
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High Starch in Plant Leaves at Senescence
Currently, there is a great interest in using plant biomass, instead of grain, to produce ethanol. Starch can easily be used to make ethanol and would improve ethanol production from cellulose. In most plants, though, starch accumulated during the day is usually broken down each night, resulting in very little starch accumulation in the leaves. The quantity of starch present in the leaves of a plant will affect the gross yield and processing efficiency. Since currently existing high starch... read more
06/01/2011
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Fatty Acid-Producing Microbes for Generating Medium- and Long-Chain Hydrocarbons

New, renewable sources of transportation fuel are needed to meet continuing demand. While the main focus has been on biomass-derived gasoline alternatives such as ethanol and other short-chain alcohols, distillates with higher energy density such as diesel and jet fuel are required for the heavy transportation sector.

Biodiesel is a biodegradable, clean-burning combustible fuel made of medium- to long-chain hydrocarbons that can be used in most internal combustion diesel engines. Current... read more

06/01/2011
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A Nanoparticle-based Coagulation Method for Cost-effective Microalgae Harvesting
In this invention we report a method to harvest microalgae that is both cost-effective and efficient.
04/06/2011
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BioTiger
Scientists at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) have discovered a new environmental biocatalyst for improving the recovery of hydrocarbons entrained in sediments utilizing a patented consortium of microbes known as BioTigerTM.  BioTigerTM comprises unique and balanced strains of natural bacteria that are especially suited to the task of destroying or otherwise mitigating polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals.  It was used in the first-ever biological field... read more
03/16/2011
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Custom Engineered Microcompartments for Enzyme Efficiency
Cheryl Kerfeld and Dominique Loque at Berkeley Lab have developed a technology that can be used to introduce new or enhanced metabolic pathways to bacteria, yeast, algae, and plant and animal cells for the purpose of providing additional functions for biofuel production, CO2 sequestration, fixation, etc. The technology involves colocalizing metabolic enzymes within microcompartments in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and in cell-free non-living systems such as vesicles.
01/21/2011
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Genetically Engineered Ethanol Producing Microorganisms
Researchers at PNNL have developed a process concept for the use of microorganisms in the production of fuels, chemicals and other products.
01/05/2011
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Enhancing Cation-Exchange Capacity of Biochar for Soil Amendment and Global Carbon Sequestration
Photosynthesis captures more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than any other process on Earth. However, because biomass is not stable and is always decomposing, it is of limited use for carbon isolation. In contrast, carbonized biomass, or biochar, is very stable. This ORNL invention is a process technology that can improve the soil nutrient properties of biochar by enhancing its cation exchange capacity.
12/08/2010
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Microbial Fuel Cells for Recycle of Process Water from Cellulosic Ethanol Biorefineries
A method was invented at ORNL for removing inhibitor compounds from process water in biomass-to-ethanol production. This invention can also be used to produce power for other industrial processes.
12/08/2010
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Bioelectrochemical Treatment of Gaseous By-products
A new method for using gaseous compounds to produce energy, while also removing harmful by-products, was invented by ORNL researchers. This invention offers an efficient use of waste products, such as sulfurous compounds or carbon monoxide, and can reduce the overall cost of industrial operations.
12/08/2010
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Targeted Mutagenesis Tool in Mesophilic Cellulolytic Clostridia Species
ORNL researchers invented a targeted mutagenesis method to genetically modify Gram-positive bacteria, especially within the class of Clostridia. Clostridium cellulolyticum ATCC35319 is the model system of mesophilic cellulolytic Clostridia species. These anaerobic bacteria are capable of degrading cellulose and can contribute to the production cellulose-derived ethanol. This is the only system of its kind for these species.
12/08/2010
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Calcium Hexa Aluminate Linings for Alkaline Environments
A new composition of calcium hexa aluminate developed at ORNL is a highly effective chemical barrier against corrosive materials inside storage, process, and transport vessel containers. The CA6 composition protects containers from the critical temperatures and chemical environments created by alkali and/or high alkaline salts or salt forming compounds.
12/08/2010
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Method for Removing Precipitates in Biofuel
At ORNL the application of ultrasonic energy, or sonication, has been shown to successfully remove or prevent the formation of 50–90% of the precipitates in biofuels. Precipitates can plug filters as biodiesel is transported from one location to another, and often cannot be detected by visual inspection.
12/08/2010
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Integrated Reactor and Centrifugal Separator
A more efficient reaction and separation process for reaction products was invented by ORNL researchers. This method is specifically applicable to the production of biodiesel through the esterification of organic oils and fats.
12/08/2010
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Lyotropic Liquid Crystal (LLC) Nanofiltration Membranes
University of Colorado research groups led by Douglas Gin and Richard Noble have developed a novel type of filtration membrane based on the polymerization of lyotropic liquid crystals (LLCs) that contains ordered, densely packed, size-tunable pores of uniform size. These new LLC membranes have pore sizes on the order of 0.5-2 nm. The resulting size-selectivity of these membranes enables high, predictable rejection of dissolved ions (salts, in particular) from water as well as a number of... read more
12/06/2010
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Mixed Sugar Fermentative Strain of Zymomonas mobilis
Ethanol is the clean, renewable, domestic form of gasoline the U.S. needs to decrease its dependence on foreign oil and mitigate pollution from vehicles. However, the current high cost of ethanol production is preventing this renewable fuel from becoming widespread.

NREL has addressed this cost issue in the fermentation step of ethanol production by developing genetically engineered bacteria known as Zymomonas mobilis 8b. Traditional yeasts have the ability to ferment six-carbon sugars,... read more
10/26/2010
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High-Speed Biomass Recalcitrance Pipeline Speeds Up Bio-Mass Analysis
Pipeline analysis speeds up the process for the selection of plant species with the lowest natural recalcitrance (resistance to sugar conversion) as well as the enzymes that can most efficiently break down cellulose into fermentable sugars. The Biomass Recalcitrance Pipeline was created by the BioEnergy Science Center (a collaboration of 20 universities, national laboratories, and industrial partners) in order to develop a fundamental understanding of the factors controlling the release of... read more
10/15/2010
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New Lignin Separation Method from Ammonia Solutions
A scientist at the Savannah River National Laboratory has developed a new method to separate lignin from ammonia solutions. Bio-ethanol plants typically use ammonia to separate lignin from the cellulosic fibers for a more efficient operation. Lignin itself is a byproduct with a variety of potential markets. The new method provides an efficient means of separating lignin from the ammonia to provide a product free of impurities.
09/28/2010
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Hydrogenation of Glutamic Acid to Pyroglutaminol and Prolinol
Biomass feedstocks are increasingly in higher demand across the petrochemical industry as manufacturers research ways to make chemical products from something more environmentally friendly than petroleum. Glutamic acid is a ready platform for conversion to value added products. Among those are pyroglutaminol and prolinol, which may benefit a number of applications.
09/24/2010
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Wiki-based Techno Economic Analysis of a Lignocellulosic Biorefinery

JBEI has developed a model for a lignocellulosic biorefinery and posted it on an open wiki, making it the first open and widely accessible tool of its kind. The model can be used to estimate the economic impact of various aspects of lignocellulosic biorefinery processing technology. The model can be used to calculate the economic, environmental, and energetic performance of the corn stover-to-ethanol process, and allows users to model the scenarios that are of most interest to them. For... read more

09/17/2010
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Textured Metal Catalysts for Heterogeneous Catalysis
Textured metal catalysts combine the advantages of both carbon supported and metal oxide supported catalysts for heterogeneous catalysis in aqueous systems. This combines the surface area of carbon catalysts with the metals retention and support effects of metal oxides, while avoiding the low surface area and water instability of traditional metal oxide supports as well as blocking access to the micropores of carbon supports that can sometimes lead to overreaction to unwanted byproducts. These... read more
09/10/2010
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Supported Cesium Polyoxometallate Solid Acid Catalysts
Demands for a cleaner environment are motivating the chemical and petrochemical industries to develop alternative catalyst systems and/or processes to meet more stringent regulations. One particular area of emphasis is the replacement of certain liquid acids with more environmentally benign heterogeneous solid acids. Supported Cesium Polyoxometallate Solid Acid Catalysts represent a high-performing and cost-competitive (and, therefore, viable) replacement for more dangerous liquid acids... read more
09/10/2010
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Oxidized Derivatives of Hydroxymethyl Furfural (HMF)
Biorenewable fuels and chemicals are becoming increasingly important as we continue to deplete our petroleum resources. A great deal of effort is being expended in industry and academia to develop chemistries and processes to produce infrastructure-compatible fuels and chemical intermediates from biobased sources that can replace petrochemicals in existing products as well as create new products with useful properties.

Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) derivatives are newly developed biorenewable... read more
09/10/2010
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Conversion of Levulinic Acid to Methyl Tetrahydrofuran
Levulinic acid is a highly desirable renewable chemical platform, which, using this process, can be converted into Methyl Tetrahydrofuran (Me-THF) with reasonable yield. The result is a chemical compound that could represent a viable renewable alternative to compounds currently being used in the production of fuel and other similar products.
09/10/2010
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Biorenewable Process to Acrylic Acid
Biomass-derived sugars provide opportunities for new, potentially low cost routes to chemical intermediates used to produce a variety of consumer products. Biorenewable processes to acrylic acid represent greener alternatives to conventional petroleum-derived materials and could become even more cost-competitive with recent surges in petroleum prices.
09/10/2010
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Stabilization of Nickel Metal Catalysts for Aqueous Processing Systems
Nickel metal catalysts used in water-based processing systems need to be supported, or stabilized, by another metal to maximize their useful life in an aqueous environment. Attaching copper and silver to the nickel extends that useful life at less cost than other existing alternatives.
09/10/2010
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Clean Fractionation
Biorefinery production costs are driven by efficient pretreatment processes. To help lower production costs, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed an efficient and economically favorable biomass pretreatment process for upgrading feedstocks for biorefining and other end uses. Using a single-phase mixture digestion process followed by a phase separation, Clean Fractionation segregates cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin into three high-purity streams... read more
09/10/2010
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Cellulase Enzymes for the Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels and Chemicals
All plant matter on earth consists of long insoluable chains of covalently bonded glucose molecules known as cellulose. Cellulose must first be broken down into component sugars in a process known as saccharification before fermentation can convert these carbohydrates into fuel alcohols. Saccharification requires three sequential cellulase enzymes (endoglucanases, exoglucanases, and cellobiases) in which the product of one enzyme becomes the substrate for the next enzyme. The problem with... read more
07/28/2010
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Pretreatment Methods for Biomass Conversion into Biofuels and Biopolymers
Hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass using an acid catalyst to produce sugars has been known for decades but can be costly and requires special equipment. The hydrolyzed sugars themselves are somewhat labile to the harsh hydrolysis conditions and may be degraded to unwanted or toxic byproducts. If exposed to acid for too long, the glucose derived from cellulose degrades into hydroxymethlylfurfural, which can be further degraded into levulinic acid and formic acid. Xylose, a hemicellulose... read more
07/16/2010
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Recovery of Sugars by Solvent Extraction
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a technology to extract 5C and 6C sugars directly at two points in an ionic liquid biomass pretreatment process and deliver a concentrated solution of fermentable sugars. The process minimizes toxic byproducts and facilitates ionic liquid reuse.
06/24/2010
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Novel Thermophilic Cellobiohydrolase
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a hyperthermophilic cellobiohydrolase protein (CBH) to break down cellulose into cellobiose at high temperatures. The JBEI CBH can be used in concert with JBEI endoglucanases (or any other endoglucanase with a similar temperature and ph profile) in high concentrations of ionic liquid. There is no loss of activity in ionic liquid concentrations up to 20%, and the enzyme cocktail is tolerant of ionic liquid concentrations of up to... read more
06/24/2010
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Fractionation and Removal of Solutes from Ionic Liquids
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a technology to fractionate and recover biomaterials dissolved in an ionic liquid and to purify water miscible ionic liquids. The JBEI technology utilizes specific mixtures of solvents to precipitate or extract compounds dissolved in an ionic liquid without high pressure, high temperature, salts, or other reagents that cannot be recovered and reused in a closed cycle process. Compared to existing approaches, the JBEI technology... read more
06/24/2010
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Thermophilic Endoglucanase Enzymes Engineered for Increased Activity
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have generated and identified new enzyme variants of cellulase from the thermophile Thermotoga maritima with catalytic activities significantly higher than naturally existing (wild type) endoglucanases. The JBEI enzymes allow for more efficient cellulose hydrolysis at high temperatures, and they are more stable at high temperatures than commercially available enzymes.
06/24/2010
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Stress Tolerant Plants Expressing Mannosylglcerate Enzymes
Henrik Scheller of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University have identified genes in eukaryotes encoding mannosylglycerate synthases. Mannosylglycerate, a thermoprotectant compound, had been thought to occur only in archaea and eubacteria.
06/24/2010
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Thermophilic Cellulases Compatible with Ionic Liquid Pretreatment
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified an efficient method for the saccharification of lignocellulose using thermophilic endoglucanases compatible with ionic liquid pretreatment. The enzymes are used directly in a solution of ionic liquids and biomass to produce sugars from cellulose. They can solubilize the cellulosic sugars without the need to remove the ionic liquid first as well as when the cellulose is precipitated from the solution with antisolvents, such as... read more
06/23/2010
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Irreversible Low Load Genetic Switches
Although the use of recombinases for manipulation of genomic sequences is well established, only a few recombinases have been conclusively demonstrated to work orthogonally. That is, as non-cross-reacting recombinases, they do not cause unpredictable recombination events.
06/23/2010
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Identification and Alteration of Rice-Diverged Glycosyltransferases for Optimizing Biofuel Production From Grasses
Glycosyltransferases (GTs) are enzymes that play a role in the formation of polysaccharides in the plant cell wall. Pamela Ronald and researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified 609 potential GT genes (769 gene models) in rice. From this group, 33 rice-diverged GT genes (45 gene models) with high expression in above ground tissues were identified.
06/23/2010
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Feedstocks with Reduced Acetylation for Higher Product Yields and Improved Properties
Henrik Scheller of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has developed a method of using plants that have reduced levels of acetylation of their cellulose. The plants are positioned to provide higher yields of sugar for fermentation and improved properties as feedstocks for biofuels, paper production, and livestock feed. When degraded, the feedstocks produce lower levels of acetylation of their cellulose, which is inhibitory to organisms used in downstream fermentation.
06/23/2010
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Directed Evolution of Microbe Producing Biofuels Using in Vivo Transcription Factor Based Biosensors
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have invented a method of using transcription factors expressed in vivo to evolve, screen, and select for microorganisms producing an intracellular small molecule of interest, such as a short chain alcohol. In the JBEI invention, biosensors composed of transcription factors and their cognate promoters are designed and constructed to be capable of binding the particular molecule of interest.
06/23/2010
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Attrition Resistant Catalyst Materials for Fluid Bed Applications
Researchers at NREL have developed novel steam reforming catalyst materials which have improved resistance to loss of catalyst due to attrition when producing hydrogen from gasified biomass. The catalysts prepared can be used for cracking, reforming, water gas shift and gasification reactions on feedstock in a fluidized bed reactor. This technology decreases attrition of the catalyst by fabricating a ceramic support particle, then coating it with an aqueous solution of a precursor salt of a... read more
06/23/2010
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Engineered Biosynthesis of Alternative Biodiesel Fuel
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have invented a method of producing isoprenyl alkanoates that can be hydrogenated and blended into gasoline or diesel fuel. This invention also includes the design and manipulation of biosynthetic pathways to increase flux for enhanced production of fuel molecules.
02/12/2010
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5-Carbon Alcohols for Drop-in Gasoline Replacement
Jay Keasling and Howard Chou of Berkeley Lab and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have invented a fermentation process to produce 5-carbon alcohols from genetically modified E. coli host cells regardless of the feedstock used. This is the first time isopentanol has been synthesized from the isoprenoid pathway.
02/12/2010
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Novel Biosynthetic Pathway for Production of Fatty Acid Derived Molecules
Jay Keasling and Eric Steen of Berkeley Lab have invented what may be the most efficient metabolic pathway for producing fatty acids, and their derived molecules of desired chain length, by utilizing fatty acid elongases.
02/02/2010
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Producing Beneficial Materials from Biomass and Biodiesel Byproducts
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have created a process to produce olefins from polyols that may be biomass derived. The team is also the first to introduce a method of producing high purity allyl alcohol at a large scale by using glycerol as the starting material instead propylene, a petroleum feedstock.
02/02/2010
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Wet Chemical Compositional and Near IR Spectra Data Sets for Biomass
NREL has developed the following laboratory analytical procedures (LAPs) for standard biomass analysis. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) may have adopted similar procedures. ASTM and TAPPI versions may be ordered from those organizations.
02/02/2010