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Old 08-24-2013, 06:05 PM   #100 (permalink)
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'Free' glucose from woodlike plants -> cheap & ethically clean ethanol

No need to depolymerize what's not polymerized in the first place.

Belgian and British scientists have created a genetically modified plant variation that contains much less lignin than usual.
Lignin is a component of wood that gives it its strength, along with cellulose.
A lot of energy is required to break down lignin, so converting woodlike plant material to biofuel is relatively inefficient and expensive.

They discovered that the enzyme Caffeoyl (!) Shikimate Esterase (CSE) is responsible for the production of lignin in a plant cell. By suppressing this enzyme in the thale cress (Arabidopsis thalania) they reduced the lignin content by 36%; the plant does contain 4 times as much glucose than before, which can be harvested easily by drying and processing the plant, even without heating.
Despite the lower lignin content the plants are not so weak that they sag or collapse; apparently the lignin makes them a less likely target for predators than glucose would.

They claim this genetic modification can be used for any woodlike plant, so in theory the chaff and other waste material from food crops can be used for ethanol production by this modification; or even be used as a food source themselves.
In fact all kinds of plants could be used to produce glucose foro ethanol and bioplastic etc. much more efficiently; plants that grow under much harder circumstances, etc.
This would relieve the necessity to use food crops for ethanol production.

They published their findings in Science magazine.
This could really be something. I sure hope they get this going.
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Last edited by RedDevil; 08-26-2013 at 05:14 AM..
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