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Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center Technology Marketing Summaries

Here you’ll find marketing summaries for technologies available for licensing from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). The summaries provide descriptions of the technologies including their benefits, applications and industries, and development stage.

29 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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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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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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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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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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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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Utility Promoters for Biomass Feedstock Biotechnology

Genetic optimization of biomass is necessary to improve the rates and final yields of sugar release from woody biomass. Areas that would benefit from genetic optimization include growth rate, environmental stress tolerance, yields of easily fermentable polysaccharides, total lignin content, lowering biomass recalcitrance to fermentation, and wood density.

Successful application of biotechnology requires both gene discovery and a proper means for gene expression control. However, commercial use... read more

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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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