A new strain of yeast engineered by the scientists at the University of Illinois improves seaweeds conversion into biofuel substantially. The increase efficiency makes seaweed an ever better candidate as a useful marine biofuel.
Why seaweed? Typically, marine biofuels produce more biomass than terrestrial biofuels and fix more CO2 than land plants. Red seaweed, which produces glucose and galactose, is abundant in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, development of a marine biofuel allows farmers to reserve precious farmland for food crops – all good reasons to use seaweed as a biofuel source.
However, like most biofuel sources, converting some of the biomass into biofuels can be rate limiting and expensive.
Enter the new strain of yeast.
Usually, yeast consumes glucose before galactose, but this particular yeast strain has the capability to ferment both cellobiose and galactose at the same time. To achieve dual fermentation researchers introduced a sugar transporter enzyme that breaks down cellobiose. The result? A promising biofuel – in seaweed!
Discussion Question: What the main issues and limiting factors of using marine plants as biofuels?
News Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110829131315.htm
Press Release: http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/stories/news5909.html
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Laurencia.jpg
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