Two Danish biotech firms claims that they found (or created) new enzymes that can break cellulose or hemi-cellulose more efficiently, resulting in reduced price of cellulosic ethanol to less than that of gasoline. I wonder what kind of enzyme they use and why the traditional ones are so costly.
I did some research on how enzymes break down cellulose and all I found is that this is the question scientists trying to figure out. One of the scientist from Iowa State University got $306,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a basic understanding of how they work. After all, he said: “Nature has tried over and over to find ways to break down cellulose.” If the breaking down process is awfully sophisticated, those Danish people must use trail-and-error methods to find the efficient enzyme. I also wonder if we could do something to the cellulose itself to make it easier to breakdown.