New technique to make biofuels from non-edible materials

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Make ethanol biofuels that can be directly used for a fuel and as additive to gasoline from materials consumed by humans led researchers to discover new way of making ethanol from non-edible biomass materials. In addition to more efficient, it can also use materials that are less optimal functioning for humans such as corn leaves, switch grass, and stalks.

The scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have developed a new method to make plant cellulose five times more digestible by enzymes in convert biomass materials into ethanol. The constraint to make the biomass as a renewable energy source that can be equated with the use of gas is because of the difficulty in regulating molecules in cellulose is so compact lead enzyme can not work their way through. Make biofuels from plant matter is more complicated due to cellulose likely to steer itself into a sheet-like network of highly ordered, dense molecules. Other deficiencies such as the toxic byproducts as well as high costs of pretreatment procedure.

The researchers have studied the process of structural change of cellulose into a transitional form which can be enzymatically attacked when pretreated using ammonia. The result is that the pretreatment can reduced hydrogen bonds strength in the cellulosic network. The research result has encouraged to the process which cheaper cost and less energy intensive pretreatment regimen and easier to attack cellulose.

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