Sandia lab makes lignin breakthrough using soil bacteria

September 28, 2016 |

In California, abundant, chock full of energy and bound so tightly that the only way to release its energy is through combustion — lignin has frustrated scientists for years. With the help of an unusual soil bacteria, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories believe they now know how to crack open lignin, a breakthrough that could transform the economics of biofuel production.

By following the metabolic pathway of an unusual soil bacteria that lives off lignin, Sandia research team members led by principal investigator Seema Singh believe they can develop technologies to break down lignin and extract valuable platform chemicals. High-value chemicals like muconic acid and adipic acid can be derived from the platform chemicals.

The work is reported in a paper titled “Decoding how a soil bacterium extracts building blocks and metabolic energy from ligninolysis provides road map for lignin valorization” published on Sept. 15 in Proceeding of National Academy of Sciences. The work is funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

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Category: Research

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