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New medical and other biotechnologies

Cold-tolerant, Oil-Producing Sugarcane

Written by , on February 26, 2014

A team led by researchers at the University of Illinois is using recent advances in plant biotechnology to increase sugarcane's geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production. The team introduced genes into the sugarcane that boost natural oil production in the plant's stems to about 1.5%.  […]  Read more »

Wood to Biofuel in Hours

Written by , on December 10, 2013

Until now, it has taken weeks to make biofuel from trees. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have now shortened the process to a few hours. In 2010, scientists at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences discovered a "super enzyne" which, in effect, shoots holes into the wood surface with the help […]  Read more »

Discovery Could Eliminate Need for Nitrogen Fertilisers

Written by , on July 26, 2013

Professor Edward Cocking, at the University of Nottingham, has developed a process which enables all crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than from environmentally damaging fertilisers. Nitrogen fixation is the process by which plants convert nitrogen is ammonia which is vital for plants to survive and grow.The vast majority of plants obtain their […]  Read more »

Petrol from Bacteria

Written by , on May 13, 2013

Until now, biofuels have been made up of hydrocarbon chains which are not truly compatible with most modern engines – they work inefficiently and may corrode the engine over time. For these biofuels to become a real alternative to fossil fuels, engines would have to be redesigned. Now, sceintists at the University of Exeter have […]  Read more »

Nanocellulose – 2. Recyclable Solar Cells

Written by , on April 22, 2013

Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells on cellulose nanocrystal substrates. The cellulose substrates and made from plants and can be easily recycled at the end of their life. To date, organic solar cells have usually been fabricated on glass or plastic. Neither of these is easy to recycle […]  Read more »

Nanocellulose – 1. Engineering Algae to Make a “Wonder Material”

Written by , on April 22, 2013

At the American Chemical Society Conference, Dr Malcolm J Brown Jr, a leading researcher on nanocellulose since the 1970s, has reported major advances in producing nanocellulose from blue-green algae. The great strength and light weight of nanocellulose have fostered interest in using it in everything from lightweight armour and ballistic glass to wound dressings and […]  Read more »

Food and Fuel from Any Plant

Written by , on April 20, 2013

Researchers at Virginia Tech, led by Associate Professor Percival Zhang, have developed a process by which approximately 30% of the cellulose from any plant material (including agricultural waste) can be converted into a starch known as amylose. Amylose can be used in food or as biodegradable packaging. Cellulose and starch have the same chemical composiition […]  Read more »

Low-cost Hydrogen from Any Biomass

Written by , on April 19, 2013

Researchers at Virginia Tech have discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to be a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source. Associate Proffessor Y.H. Percival Zhang and his team have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity […]  Read more »

Fuel from CO2 in the Atmosphere

Written by , on March 27, 2013

Researchers at the University of Georgia say that they have found a way to take the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make useful industrial products, potentially including liquid fuels. The process uses a unique microorganism called a "rushing fireball" (Pyrococcus furiosus) which thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in the super-heated ocean […]  Read more »

Old Process Efficiently Produces Biodiesel

Written by , on February 17, 2013

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have discovered that a long-abandoned process, once used to turn starch into explosives, can be used to efficiently produce diesel fuel from plant sources such as corn, sugar cane, grasses and other fast-growing plants or trees. The process of bacterial fermentation was discovered nearly 100 years ago by […]  Read more »