Advances in BioEnergy

U.S. Dept. of Energy announces new biofuel to replace gasoline

New biofuel from woody plants announced by Bioenergy Science CenterMarch 07, 2011
OakRidge National Laboratory News Release

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today congratulated a team of researchers at the Department's BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) who have achieved yet another advance in the drive toward next generation biofuels: using bacteria to convert plant matter directly into isobutanol, which can be burned in regular car engines with a heat value higher than ethanol and similar to gasoline. This research is part of a broad portfolio of work the Department is doing to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and create new economic opportunities for rural America.

"This is a perfect example of the promising opportunity we have to create a major new industry—one based on bio-material such as wheat and rice straw, corn stover, lumber wastes, and plants specifically developed for bio-fuel production that require far less fertilizer and other energy inputs. But we must continue with an aggressive research and development effort."U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Compared to ethanol, higher alcohols such as isobutanol are better candidates for gasoline replacement because they have an energy density, octane value and Reid vapor pressure - a measurement of volatility - that is much closer to gasoline

Using consolidated bioprocessing, a team led by James Liao of UCLA and Yongchao Li and Yunfeng Yang of Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the first time produced isobutanol directly from cellulose. The team's work, published online in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The paper is titled "Metabolic Engineering of Clostridium Cellulolyticum for Isobutanol Production from Cellulose," and is available online at http://aem.asm.org