Research finds that poplar trees can be enhanced to break down more easily and as such, become a more viable resource for biofuel.
“Poplar trees are difficult to breakdown for organisms or enzymes,” says Curtis Wilkerson, plant biologist and lead author of the study at Michigan State University
. “We can change the pH of the plant in a chemical treatment facility which will allow the plant to function as it normally does.”
Wilkerson along with his colleague, Shawn Mansfield from the University of British Columbia, identified the gene that produces monomers – molecular bonds – and enhanced their degradability. The majority of the cost associated with processing any type of fuel is transportation cost. The goal is to place processing plants in the center of the agricultural land where the crop is grown and provide a renewable resource that will help lower C02 emissions.
This research was part of a collaboration intent on making transformational breakthroughs in new cellulosic biofuels technology. Funding was provided by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
and the U.S. Department of Energy
Source: Curtis Wilkerson, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor