Efforts by research institutions, governments around the world, and the biofuels industry have been ramping up in the recent years to fund more research on the development of biofuels. Just recently, Cornell University in the United States received a U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop algae bioreactor for biofuels production and then the University of California released a study that says saltwater algae may be a viable option for biofuels! (The advantage in this second discovery is of course that valuable freshwater will not need to be used for growing algae for biofuels.
Recently, I also came across several biofuel research studies and thought to share them with our blog readers in a couple of posts.
In this first post, I am pleased to present three recent biofuel research studies using our Ion Chromatography (IC) systems and carbohydrate analytical columns. Note that these are plant cellular studies.
The research focus of this study (the above link takes you to the full free PDF) is on how cellulosic biomass can be used cost effectively for the development of biofuels given that natural lignocellulose is extremely challenging to decompose. As per the study, “Using a designer cellulosome approach, we have constructed the largest form of homogeneous artificial cellulosomes reported to date, which bear a total of six different cellulases and xylanases from the highly cellulolytic bacterium Thermobifida fusca.”
This fully functional complex enhanced the degradation of untreated wheat straw compared to the wild-type free enzymes, representing a potential breakthrough by addressing the problem of recalitration and making biofuel production more efficient.
The study uses one of one of our ion chromatography systems to analyze sugar content using the High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography with Pulsed Amperometric Detection (HPAE-PAD) technique, which determines anionic analytes without derivatization, and one of our carbohydrate analytical columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex CarboPac PA1 Carbohydrate column).
This study was jointly conducted by several Israeli institutes (The Weizmann Institute of Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and Tel Aviv University) and Cornell University.
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Study: A Revised Architecture of Primary Cell Walls Based on Biomechanical Changes Induced by Substrate-Specific Endoglucanases
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and printed in the Plant Physiology journal online, (the above link takes you to the full free PDF) researchers at the Pennsylvania State University conducting this study state, “Understanding of cell wall architecture is a cornerstone for conceiving the possible molecular mechanisms by which plant cells modify their walls to control growth as well as influence cell mechanics, water relations, and other properties.”
Xyloglucan (XyG) is known to play a central role in the structure of a plant’s cell wall and its enlargement, and a tethered network model has emerged and is widely accepted. This study aimed to test the tethered network model, with results pointing to a revised architecture; “…to a minor, relatively inaccessible XyG-cellulose structure with importance in cell wall mechanics and with consequences for models of cell wall architecture and mechanisms of cell wall loosening.”
Published in the PNAS journal online, this study (the above link takes you to the full free PDF) expects to further research on producing cost-effective biofuels.
As per the study abstract, “By understanding the mechanism of cellulase induction and utilization in a model organism using reverse genetics, we expect that this knowledge can be translated into currently used industrial filamentous fungi to further improve their ability to produce lignocellulose-degrading enzymes and allow for the production of a renewable source of cost-competitive biofuels.”
The sugars in the experiment were monitored using one our of our mid-level Ion Chromatography systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-3000 system) and one of our carbohydrate analytical columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex CarboPac PA20 column) for mono- and disaccharide analysis.
Look for the next post in this series in the next few days: also, if you have recent articles of interest on this topic, do share with our readers by adding your comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.