Biofuels Clearwater, FL

Monday

Furfural

Furfural is a compounded made up of organic byproducts such as sawdust oats and corn cobs. The talk that I attended was about using a bio-engineered e-coli strain to ferment furfural into ethanol. The specific strains that were used were labeled LY180, EmFR17 and EmFR9. LY180  is the wild type strand and the others are the mutants, they have more tolerance to furfural than the original stain. The presenter ran a test called a microray analysis and found that the genes that made a difference are yqhC and yqhD genes. This is significant because both of these genes play roles in blocking/slowing down tolerance of the e-coli strain on furfural. Deletion of yqhC stops or limits the reaction of the yqhD promoter.

Industrial uses of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for ethanol production

Saccharomyces cerevisiae also known as industrial strains that ferment to produce glucose, but here the focus is on the production of ethanol. The presenter of this topic has been able to construct a strain of yeast that is able to ferment cellulose into ethanol. The new strain has three key features that allow it to ferment very nicely are: high tolerance to alcohol, large range of fermentation temps and grows quickly. He also tested out other cellulose producing strains from different organisms. It is unsure though, whether or not these strains produce ethanol.

Tuesday

A novel, cost-effective method for producing ethanol from carbon dioxide in hybrid algae

The presenter of this lecture focused on these certain hybrid algae that known as cyanobacteria enhanced by the addition of pyruvate decarboxylase and alcohol. These hybrids when undergoing photosynthesis use up a lot of carbon to produce ethanol in its cells and the ethanol that is made is diffused through the cell walls into the culture medium then evaporates. Along with water the ethanol evaporates and goes up into the headspace of the apparatus. The ethanol water vapor then condenses and with the help of gravity drips down into a beaker and distilled into fuel grade ethanol. The company called Algenol that is represented in this lecture has algae that produce ethanol at a rate of 1.5 moles per square meter of algae every week. The company seems to be making great strides and is efficiently producing ethanol in a consistent manner.

Strategies for improving the photon usage efficiency and productivity of microalgal culture

In this talk the utilization of light on micro algae and the two different strategies that are relevant: 1) increase photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) 2) Elimination of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR).  The presenter demonstrated three different algae are based on size of antenna’s that were tested. Her tests concluded that the intermediate size algae were the best because it did well in both shallow and deep depths of the pond. The smaller antenna, because of its antenna complex did better in the deep and the longest did the best in the shallow parts of the pond. The longest did the best in the shallow because of its unique absorption rates. However she did note that increase in chlorophyll a to b ratio could impact growth at different light intensities under the water.

Wednesday

One is to increase photosynthetically active radiation (PAR)

The science of creating food fuel and fiber from plants is known as agronomy. The lecture talked about the impact of higher usage of biofuels especially it’s feedstock on agronomic systems. The demand for feedstock has risen exponentially over the years with the increase concentration on becoming more fuel efficient. The presenter made three references to the effects of biofuel feedstock usage: extensification, substitution and intensification. Extensification is bringing new land into production. Substitution is simply switching lands from one use to another. Intensification is increasing the inputs onto the land. After looking at these three factors he concluded that a switch to switch grass would cause the least amount of erosion.

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