Chemistry Times
Recent News |  Archives |  Tags |  About |  Newsletter |  Submit News |  Links |  Subscribe to ChemistryTimes.com RSS Feed Subscribe


More Articles
Scorpions are master architects, according to new researchScorpions are master architects, according to new research

Gene discovery could lead to better soybean varieties for Northern United StatesGene discovery could lead to better soybean varieties for Northern United States

Substance P in hippocampus versus striatal marginal division for learning/memory functionSubstance P in hippocampus versus striatal marginal division for learning/memory function

Running for life: How speed restricts evolutionary change of the vertebral columnRunning for life: How speed restricts evolutionary change of the vertebral column

Researchers discover boron 'buckyball'Researchers discover boron 'buckyball'

In development, it's all about the timingIn development, it's all about the timing

Brain waves show learning to read does not end in 4th grade, contrary to popular theory

Asteroid Vesta to reshape theories of planet formationAsteroid Vesta to reshape theories of planet formation

Is the universe a bubble? Let's checkIs the universe a bubble? Let's check

The bend in the Appalachian mountain chain is finally explainedThe bend in the Appalachian mountain chain is finally explained

Meet the gomphothere: UA archaeologist involved in discovery of bones of elephant ancestorMeet the gomphothere: UA archaeologist involved in discovery of bones of elephant ancestor

Getting a grip on robotic graspGetting a grip on robotic grasp

How does miR-21 promote the differentiation of hair follicle-derived NCSCs into SCs?How does miR-21 promote the differentiation of hair follicle-derived NCSCs into SCs?

International science team solve biological mysteryInternational science team solve biological mystery

Sophisticated radiation detector designed for broad public useSophisticated radiation detector designed for broad public use

Cooperation among humans, a question of ageCooperation among humans, a question of age

Protein's 'hands' enable bacteria to establish infection, research findsProtein's 'hands' enable bacteria to establish infection, research finds

Less exercise, not more calories, responsible for expanding waistlinesLess exercise, not more calories, responsible for expanding waistlines

70-foot-long, 52-ton concrete bridge survives series of simulated earthquakes70-foot-long, 52-ton concrete bridge survives series of simulated earthquakes

Extinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevationExtinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevation

High earners in a stock market game have brain patterns that can predict market bubblesHigh earners in a stock market game have brain patterns that can predict market bubbles

Platonic solids generate their 4-dimensional analoguesPlatonic solids generate their 4-dimensional analogues

A healthy lifestyle adds years to lifeA healthy lifestyle adds years to life

Study of animal urination could lead to better-engineered productsStudy of animal urination could lead to better-engineered products

All the world's oceans have plastic debris on their surfaceAll the world's oceans have plastic debris on their surface

Do probiotics help kids with stomach bugs?Do probiotics help kids with stomach bugs?

Strict diet suspends development, doubles lifespan of wormsStrict diet suspends development, doubles lifespan of worms

Identified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonationIdentified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonation

Copied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithmsCopied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithms

Converting natural gas to liquid transportation fuels via biological organisms (11/26/2013)

Tags:
biofuel, biofuels, biomass, butanol, carbon, combustion, diesel, emissions, energy, enzymes, fuel, fuels, hydrocarbons, lead, membrane proteins, metabolism, methane, microbes, modeling, natural gas, proteins, research, tools
Using enzyme engineering and other capabilities, Sandia National Laboratories will work to engineer pathways from methanotroph organisms into another microbial host that can generate butanol. Butanol has long been considered one of the best biofuel options for transportation energy. -  Dino Vournas, Sandia National Labs
Using enzyme engineering and other capabilities, Sandia National Laboratories will work to engineer pathways from methanotroph organisms into another microbial host that can generate butanol. Butanol has long been considered one of the best biofuel options for transportation energy. - Dino Vournas, Sandia National Labs

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories will use their expertise in protein expression, enzyme engineering and high-throughput assays as part of a multiproject, $34 million effort by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) aimed at developing advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.

The ARPA-E program is Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy, REMOTE, and involves 15 different projects. Sandia is a part of a two-year award led by MOgene Green Chemicals, a wholly owned subsidiary of St. Louis-based MOgene, LC, and will work toward sunlight-assisted conversion of methane to butanol.

The broad goal is to have another source of energy in the U.S. that doesn't have to be imported and could lead to lower carbon monoxide emissions than conventional fossil fuels.

Methanotrophs are microbes that can metabolize methane. Sandia's Blake Simmons, manager of the labs' biofuels and biomaterial science and technology group, calls this microbe the "poster child" of organisms that are capable of metabolizing and converting methane. The goal of the project is to engineer pathways from these organisms into another microbial host that can generate butanol. Butanol can be used as a fuel in an internal combustion engine and, along with ethanol, has long been considered one of the best biofuel options for transportation energy.

"The need for hydrocarbons that are nonpetroleum in origin is still growing, including applications such as aviation and diesel engines," said Simmons. "But in its natural state, you're not going to readily burn natural gas in those types of engines, and the same goes for some combustion engines." Natural gas, he explains, requires a special modification to be used effectively as a liquid fuel in vehicles, much like biomass needs to be converted before it can be used as a drop-in fuel.

"With biomass, we are essentially taking something that exists in nature and converting it into a low-cost, low-carbon, domestically-sourced fuel. With this project, we're using natural gas as the input rather than biomass," said Simmons. Natural gas extracted from the ground is not renewable, he pointed out, but it is playing an increasingly important role for the Department of Energy and the nation's energy supply.

Simmons said MOgene brings a great deal of organism expertise to the table, while Sandia offers enzyme engineering and other capabilities.

Improving upon nature to convert gaseous feedstocks

Using organisms to convert natural gas into liquid transportation fuels isn't a new objective for the research community, Simmons said. "There have been plenty of investigations into this in the past, since there are plenty of organisms in nature that thrive and survive and multiply off of natural gas metabolism. The problem, though, is that they exist in unique, tailored environments and are typically very slow at what they do," he said. ARPA-E's projects, he said, are hoping to improve upon "what nature has given us" and develop new, more efficient pathways to speed up the process and convert gaseous feedstocks at a pace and scale that is commercially viable. Currently, there are no proven biological methods for converting gaseous inputs such as natural gas into butanol.

"What we and others are doing is looking at the core metabolism of these microbes," Simmons said. "Then, we can either engineer it to make it faster in native organisms or we can take the metabolism out of those organisms and put it in something more industrially relevant."

Though the research community has wrestled with this problem before without much success, Simmons thinks Sandia is up to the task based on the labs' work with membrane proteins and various tools developed over the years.

"Time and time again, through internal investments and our work at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), Sandia has proven its ability to express proteins that are difficult to express," Simmons said. The labs also possess engineering and modeling tools and the ability to build high-throughput custom enzymes assays, significant proficiencies that can lead to better performance in enzymes. Few research organizations, said Simmons, offer that package of technical capabilities to tackle a problem like this one.

Simmons acknowledges that meeting the objectives will not be a simple endeavor.

"People have been trying to express this class of enzymes for a couple of decades," he says, "so this definitely won't be a slam dunk. It's been a confounding scientific challenge for the research community, and this is a notoriously difficult class of proteins. But we have the collective experience and capabilities at Sandia to figure it out."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

Post Comments:

Search
New Articles
Neutron crystallography solves long-standing biological mysteryNeutron crystallography solves long-standing biological mystery

A first direct glimpse of photosynthesis in action

Ferromagnetism at 230 K found in a new diluted magnetic semiconductor by Chinese physicists

Postcards from the photosynthetic edgePostcards from the photosynthetic edge

Chemists develop novel catalyst with 2 functions

Researchers figure out how to make more efficient fuel cellsResearchers figure out how to make more efficient fuel cells

Researchers: Consider the 'anticrystal'Researchers: Consider the 'anticrystal'

Smart paint signals when equipment is too hot to handle

Using sand to improve battery performanceUsing sand to improve battery performance

Silicon sponge improves lithium-ion battery performance

New type of soot particle discovered from wildfire emissionsNew type of soot particle discovered from wildfire emissions

Zero tolerance for xenonZero tolerance for xenon

Researchers identify one of world's thinnest piezoelectric materialsResearchers identify one of world's thinnest piezoelectric materials

Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experimentNature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment

Separating finely mixed oil and water



Archives
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007


Science Friends
Agricultural Science
Astronomy News
Sports Tech
Biology News
Biomimicry Science
Cognitive Research
Tissue Engineering
Cancer Research
Cybernetics Research
Electonics Research
Forensics Report
Fossil News
Genetic Archaeology
Genetics News
Geology News
Microbiology Research
Nanotech News
Parenting News
Physics News


  Archives |  Submit News |  Advertise With Us |  Contact Us |  Links
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. All contents © 2000 - 2015 Web Doodle, LLC. All rights reserved.