e360 digest


20 Nov 2009: Using Enzymes from Termites
To Make Biofuel from Plants and Wood Waste

A U.S. company has come up with a new way of producing biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks, such as agricultural waste: Using enzymes from the guts of termites to more efficiently produce ethanol. The startup company, ZeaChem, says using the enzymes from the wood-eating insects has achieved ethanol yields in the laboratory 35 percent higher than other producers of cellulosic ethanol, according to MIT Technology Review. ZeaChem uses acid to break the cellulose into sugars, but instead of fermenting the sugars into ethanol using yeast — as is customarily done — the company feeds the sugars to an acetogen bacteria found in termites. The bacteria turns the sugars into acetic acid, which produces ethanol when combined with hydrogen. “It’s not the obvious, direct route, but there is a high yield potential,” said an official from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado. ZeaChem’s CEO said the company has produced 135 gallons of ethanol per ton of cellulosic feedstock.

Email      Recommend     Tweet     Stumble Upon     Digg     Share    


Yale
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
.

SEARCH e360



Donate to Yale Environment 360
Yale Environment 360 Newsletter

CONNECT

Twitter: YaleE360
e360 on Facebook
Donate to e360
View mobile site
Bookmark
Share e360
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our feed:
rss


ABOUT

About e360
Contact
Submission Guidelines
Reprints

E360 en Español

Universia partnership
Yale Environment 360 articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia, the online educational network.
Visit the site.


DEPARTMENTS

Opinion
Reports
Analysis
Interviews
Forums
e360 Digest
Podcasts
Video Reports

TOPICS

Biodiversity
Business & Innovation
Climate
Energy
Forests
Oceans
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Sustainability
Urbanization
Water

REGIONS

Antarctica and the Arctic
Africa
Asia
Australia
Central & South America
Europe
Middle East
North America

e360 PHOTO GALLERY

“Peter
Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places.
View the gallery.

e360 MOBILE

Mobile
The latest
from Yale
Environment 360
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile.

e360 VIDEO

Warriors of Qiugang
The Warriors of Qiugang, a Yale Environment 360 video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). Watch the video.


header image
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland. © Google & TerraMetrics.

e360 VIDEO

Colorado River Video
In a Yale Environment 360 video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.

OF INTEREST



Yale