Norwegian Scientists Cracks Code of Hyper-efficient Biofuels Production

The new enzymes that have been discovered by the researchers at the University of Life Sciences (UMB) prevents the breakdown and conversion of other types of biomass, like straw, logging residues and by-products from food production to biofuels are extremely effective. The breakthrough by researchers at UMB means in essence that they have found a new technology for sustainable use of biomass. It will again provide sustainable biofuels and other plant-based products.

– The research group here with us has discovered a completely new type of enzyme. The enzyme helps the breakdown of cellulose and other “robust” sugar polymers in biomass. We've got this new enzyme to work and we manage to get the enzymatic degradation to go a lot faster, “says researcher Gustav Vaaje -Kolstad at UMB.

Revolution in bio-energy

The scientists believe that their new enzyme technology simply can revolutionize the future production of biofuels.

– It is likely that this finding are going to revolutionize the technology for production of second generation biofuels. In general, the findings could contribute to the development of new technologies for better utilization of all kinds of biomass for all sorts of purposes in what is called a “biorefinery”, says Vaaje-Kolstad.

The discovery has potential to remove the barriers that prevented the development of more sustainable type of biofuel, which is also called “second generation” biofuels.

Facts about second-generation biofuels

Second generation biofuel technologies need to be developed because first generation biofuels manufacture has important limitations. First generation biofuel processes are useful, but limited in most cases: there is a threshold above which they cannot produce enough biofuel without threatening food supplies and biodiversity. Many first generation biofuels are dependent of subsidies and are not cost competitive with existing fossil fuels such as oil, and some of them produce only limited greenhouse gas emissions savings.

Second generation biofuels can help solve these problems and can supply a larger proportion of our fuel supply sustainably, affordably, and with greater environmental benefits.

Tora Aasland congratulate bioenergy scientists

Research Minister Tora Aasland visited the scientists who contributed to the research of the new enzyme and congragulate them.

– I want to congratulate everyone who contributed to this breakthrough, “said Minister of Research and Higher Education Tora Aasland. She says the efforts of climate and energy research have been significantly stepped up with this discovery.

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