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Targeted strategies improve efficacy of enzymes to convert biomass to biofuels

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Posted March 5, 2014
Targeted strategies improve efficacy of enzymes to convert biomass to biofuels
Biological material derived from plants represents a promising source for renewable and sustainable biofuel production, but there is a lack of cost-effective and efficient enzymes for converting plant-derived carbohydrates to biofuels. This study systematically evaluates the specific physical and chemical properties of biomass that hinder the performance of commercial enzyme products.

By identifying specific deficiencies in currently available enzymes, this research reveals targeted strategies for improving the efficacy of enzymes to convert biomass to biofuels. This information can be used to design, screen and discover highly efficient plant cell-wall degrading enzymes that will significantly help to reduce the formidable economic burden associated with the biochemical-based biomass-to-biofuel production process.

Biofuels are produced from plant-derived biomass through the breakdown of the plant cell wall, which contains sugars that can be used for energy. A considerable amount of effort has been directed to developing effective enzymes for degrading the cell wall, but the development of more efficient and cost-effective enzymes for biomass-to-biofuel conversion has been limited for several reasons. For one, it is not well understood how enzymes interact with biomass substrates, which have highly complex and heterogeneous physical and chemical properties. Moreover, there is a lack of adequate biomass model substrates for evaluating the efficacy of different enzymes.

Read more at: Phys.org

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