ORNL researchers closer to creating custom microbes to facilitate cellulosic bioenergy

September 16, 2019 |

In Tennessee, scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a method to insert genes into a variety of microorganisms that previously would not accept foreign DNA, with the goal of creating custom microbes to break down plants for bioenergy.

Researchers at the DOE Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI) at ORNL are harnessing the power of microbes to turn non-food biomass like corn stalks, switchgrass and poplar into biofuels and bioproducts. To increase the efficiency of the conversion process, microbes are needed that can break down cellulose and ferment it into biofuels in a single set of reactions. Dubbed consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), this approach improves the economics of biofuels production.

Though the CBI team has demonstrated the feasibility of consolidated bioprocessing, they need better microbes to achieve greater yields of biofuels. The target: microbes that eat cellulose to produce desired fuels and thrive in high-temperature environments without oxygen.

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Category: Research

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