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Microorganisms to Speed Production of Biofuels

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryResearchers 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.DescriptionConventional biomass pretreatment methods release sugars, weak acids, and metabolic by-products that slow down or even stop fermentation, resulting in slower biofuel production. ORNL researchers use information from the acetaldehyde-CoA/alcohol dehydrogenase gene, and its mutations, to synthesize a microorganism that is more tolerant of ethanol and consequently avoids the inhibitory by-products of conventional pretreatment. The researchers also developed a method for enhancing the resistance of the microorganism and producing alcohol from cellulosic biomass material.Benefits• Quicker fermentation process for lignocelluloses biomassApplications and Industries• Treatment and conversion of lignocelluloses biomass to ethanol and butanol
• Production of fuel ethanol in industrial-scale quantities
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,629,255
Nucleic acid molecules conferring enhanced ethanol tolerance and microorganisms having enhanced tolerance to ethanol
The present invention provides isolated nucleic acid molecules which encode a mutant acetaldehyde-CoA/alcohol dehydrogenase or mutant alcohol dehydrogenase and confer enhanced tolerance to ethanol. The invention also provides related expression vectors, genetically engineered microorganisms having enhanced tolerance to ethanol, as well as methods of making and using such genetically modified microorganisms for production of biofuels based on fermentation of biomass materials.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory 01/14/2014
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
UT-B ID 201002408DevelopmentAvailable10/04/201110/04/2011

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To: Nestor Fronco<>