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New Way to Reduce Plant Lignin Could Lead to Cheaper Biofuels

This illustration shows the molecular structure of HCT that was derived at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source. The purple and green areas are two domains of the enzyme, and the multi-colored structures between the two domains are two molecules (p-coumaryl-shikimate and HS-CoA) in the binding site. New research shows this binding site is indiscriminate with the acceptor molecules it recruits, including molecules that inhibit lignin production. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Scientists have shown that an enzyme can be tweaked to reduce lignin in plants. Their technique could help lower the cost of converting biomass into carbon-neutral fuels to power your car and other sustainably developed bio-products.

One-Stop Shop for Biofuels

Blake and Seema featured

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a “high-gravity” one-pot process for producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass that gives unprecedented yields while minimizing water use and waste disposal.

How to Train Your Bacterium

Peidong solar feature

Berkeley Lab researchers are using the bacterium Moorella thermoacetica to perform photosynthesis and also to synthesize semiconductor nanoparticles in a hybrid artificial photosynthesis system for converting sunlight into valuable chemical products.

JBEI Joins Elite 100/500 Club

jbei-logo Feature 1

The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) is now a member of the elite “100/500 Club,” having filed its 100th patent application and published its 500th scientific paper. JBEI is a DOE Bioenergy Research Center led by Berkeley Lab.

Another Milestone in Hybrid Artificial Photosynthesis

Peidong Yang CJC Bioinorganic Solar to Chemical Text

Berkeley Lab researchers using a bioinorganic hybrid approach to artificial photosynthesis have combined semiconducting nanowires with select microbes to create a system that produces renewable molecular hydrogen and uses it to synthesize carbon dioxide into methane, the primary constituent of natural gas.

Orange is the New Red

Corie Ralston and Cheryl Kerfield feature image

Berkeley Lab researchers discovered that a photoprotective mechanism in cyanobacteria is triggered by an unprecedented, large-scale movement from one location to another of the carotenoid pigment within the Orange Carotenoid Protein.

CLAIRE Brings Electron Microscopy to Soft Materials

CLAIRE image of Al nanostructures with an inset that shows a cluster of six Al nanostructures.

Berkeley Lab researchers, working at the Molecular Foundry, have invented a technique called “CLAIRE” that extends the incredible resolution of electron microscopy to the non-invasive nanoscale imaging of soft matter, including biomolecules, liquids, polymers, gels and foams.

Biofuel Proteomics: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Use Proteomics to Profile Switchgrass

Switchgrass is a North American native prairie grass widely viewed as one of the most promising of all the biofuel crop candidates. (Photo courtesy of GLBRC)

JBEI researchers used advanced proteomic techniques to identify 1,750 unique proteins in shoots of switchgrass, a native prairie grass viewed as one of the most promising of all the plants that could be used to produce advanced biofuels.

Metabolic Path to Improved Biofuel Production

Jamie Cate feature 1

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails.

Sweet Smell of Success: JBEI Researchers Boost Methyl Ketone Production in E. coli

Methyl ketones were discovered more than a century ago in the aromatic evergreen rue plant. They are now used to provide scents in essential oils and flavoring in cheese, but JBEI research shows they could also serve as advanced biofuels. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

JBEI researchers have engineered E. coli bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel.