The Bio in Biofuels
The geopolitical situation around the availability and control of “energy” has created a demand for research into ways to harness the potential energy value of ordinary agro-industrial waste products. The concept of conversion of carbohydrate polymers into fuels such as ethanol, is currently based on the same technology that is used for the production of high fructose corn syrup for starch. This starch to ethanol opportunity alone is growing at over 20% per year. However, as we reach the limit of what we are willing to dedicate in terms of edible crops to the production of fuels, we are looking for ways to convert the cellulose in the waste materials into ethanol as well. Although differing from starch only in the stereochemistry of the glucose:glucose linkage, the challenges are much higher. Enzyme requirements are up to 100 fold greater on a per gram substrate basis. This challenge will require re-engineering the substrate (plant engineering) and optimizing and producing, low cost catalysts for cellulose conversion, the BIO in biofuels and the subject of this talk.
Scott D. Power, PhD., is a Research Fellow and Vice President of Research for Danisco Genencor's US and European organizations and is currently responsible for biorefining projects. Dr. Power was hired in 1983 as one of the first employees of Genencor Inc. Since that date he has served as Director of Protein Chemistry, leader of various projects in Pathway Engineering, Protein Expression, and Protein Engineering. Dr. Power also served as V.P. in vaccine research and immunology programs with the HealthCare group and most recently as V.P. of the combined US and Dutch Bio-Products research organizations. He is the inventor on over 50 patents with application in enzyme protein engineering, protein and peptide production and vaccine development. Dr. Power received his B.A. in plant physiology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon and his PhD. in Biochemistry from Rice University in Houston, Texas. He completed his Postdoctoral NIH-fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
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