Researchers from Iowa State University are exploring the uses of a chemical compound that could break down cellulosic plant materials to simple sugars, thus speeding up its fermentation into ethanol. When mixed with equal amounts of water, the solution could break down up to 95% of the cellulose in distillers dried grains. Further trials using other model compounds for cellulose also turned up promising preliminary results, according to the researchers. Depending on its efficacy and the substrates it can work on, this compound may have a big impact in the biofuel industry.
Prof. John Verkade (photo, left) is not revealing the identity of the compound, though until its potential for patents has been explored. Read more from the Iowa State University’ feature report.
[Photo: John Verkade, left, a University Professor of chemistry at Iowa State, and Reed Oshel, a graduate student in biorenewable resources and technology, are studying a chemical compound that breaks down plant fiber. Credit: Bob Elbert/ISU).