Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Significant Step Forward in Biofuels Quest

Published: Monday, December 23, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers from the Department of Chemistry at York have discovered a family of enzymes that can degrade hard-to-digest biomass into its constituent sugars.

Scientists at the University of York have made a significant step in the search to develop effective second generation biofuels.

‘First generation’ biofuels have already made an impact in the search for renewable and secure energy sources particularly through the generation of bioethanol manufactured from easy-to-digest food sources such as corn starch. 

But the resulting need for energy crops is using up valuable arable land threatening food price stability and limiting the amount of biofuel that can be made in this way. 

The use of ‘difficult-to-digest’ sources, such as plant stems, wood chips, cardboard waste or insect / crustacean shells, offers a potential solution.  Fuel made from these sources is known as ‘second generation’ biofuels.  Finding a way of breaking down these sources into their constituent sugars to allow them to be fermented through to bioethanol is regarded as the ‘Holy Grail’ of biofuel research.  

Reported today in Nature Chemical Biology, the new research was led by Professor Paul Walton and Professor Gideon Davies at York and also involved Professor Bernie Henrissat, of CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France. It opens up major new possibilities in the production of bioethanol from sustainable sources.

By studying the biological origins and the detailed chemistry of the enzyme family, the researchers have shown that Nature has a wide range of methods of degrading biomass which humankind can now harness in its own endeavour to produce sustainable biofuels. 

Professor Walton says: “There’s no doubt that this discovery will have an impact on not only those researchers around the globe working on how to solve the problems associated with second generation biofuel generation, but—more importantly—also on the producers of bioethanol who now have a further powerful tool to help them generate biofuel from sustainable sources such as waste plant matter.”

The research at York was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). 

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Potential New Diagnosis and Therapy for Breast Cancer
Scientists at the University of York, using clinical specimens from charity Breast Cancer Now’s Tissue Bank, have conducted new research into a specific sodium channel that indicates the presence of cancer cells and affects tumour growth rates.
Monday, October 12, 2015
All Change for Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
The discovery of how a group of bacteria can rapidly adapt to changing growth conditions could have implications for future antibiotic development.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Protein The Clue To Solving A Darwinian Mystery
Scientists at the University of York provided the key to solving the evolutionary puzzle surrounding that Charles Darwin called the ‘strangest animals ever discovered’.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
York Scientists To Map Haematological Cancer DNA
UK researchers have launched an ambitious project to analyse samples from over 20,000 blood cancer patients to identify how differences in their cancer cell’s DNA can influence the success of treatment.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Plant Variants Point the Way to Improved Biofuel Production
Manufacturing biofuels from food crop by-products such as straw could be made quicker and cheaper thanks to a new study led by scientists at the University of York.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
New Approach Aims to Silence Cancer ‘Survival Genes’
Scientists at the University of York are working on a promising new approach for tackling colorectal cancer, the second most common cause of cancer-related death.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Embalming Study ‘Rewrites’ Key Chapter in Egyptian History
New evidence to suggest that the origins of mummification started in ancient Egypt 1,500 years earlier than previously thought.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
York Scientists Gain Prestigious Awards
A team of scientists working in the University of York’s chemistry department has received the prestigious ‘Rita and John Cornforth Award’ from the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Gene discovery could help to boost crop yields
A discovery by scientists at the University of York of a vital feature of a plant's temperature sensing and growth mechanism could help to increase yields from crops.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Drug Breakthrough in Fight Against Neglected Diseases
Scientists have made a major breakthrough in identifying new treatments for a fatal disease which infects tens of thousands of Africans each year.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Revolutionary Technologies Developed to Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients
Breath test to detect lung cancer brings oxygen directly to the wound.
NIH Supports New Studies to Find Alzheimer’s Biomarkers in Down Syndrome
Initiative will track dementia onset, progress in Down syndrome volunteers.
Dementia Linked to Deficient DNA Repair
Mutant forms of breast cancer factor 1 (BRCA1) are associated with breast and ovarian cancers but according to new findings, in the brain the normal BRCA1 gene product may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Using Drug-Susceptible Parasites to Fight Drug Resistance
Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a model for evaluating a potential new strategy in the fight against drug-resistant diseases.
Boosting Breast Cancer Treatment
To more efficiently treat breast cancer, scientists have been researching molecules that selectively bind to cancer cells and deliver a substance that can kill the tumor cells, for several years.
New Gene Map Reveals Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel
Team of researchers switches off almost 18,000 genes
New Discovery Sheds Light on Disease Risk
Gaps between genes interact to influence the risk of acquiring disease.
How Cells ‘Climb’ to Build Fruit Fly Tracheas
Mipp1 protein helps cells sprout “fingers” for gripping.
Research Finding Could Lead to Targeted Therapies for IBD
Findings published online in Cell Reports.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos