EU researchers design and test cellulosomes to breakdown biomass waste into chemicals

April 12, 2018 |

In Belgium, EU researchers designed and tested cell structures, cellulosomes, that help breakdown abundant biomass waste to produce value-added chemicals, such as advanced biofuels.

Key to producing advanced biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass is the efficient conversion of the cellulose contained within cell walls into fermentable sugars – a major bottleneck for large-scale production. Efficient breakdown of biomass into sugars, called saccharification, can reduce the cost of the process and lower also the amount of feedstock required for production of biofuels with milder or shorter pre-treatment time.

Some microbes have natural structures called cellulosomes that contain cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose efficiently into sugars. The EU-funded CELLULOSOMEPLUS project developed designer cellulosomes (DCs) to achieve high yields of fermentable sugars from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) to create advanced biofuels at a low process cost.

The consortium produced the basic components of natural cellulosomes as well as other lignocellulosic enzymes and, after their assembly into DCs, characterised the hydrolysis of the OFMSW substrate. They also studied the cellulosome’s physicochemical, atomic and supramolecular structure, and the interactions of its various components.

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Category: Research

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