With a few genetic tweaks, a type of soil bacteria with an appetite for hydrocarbons shows promise as a biological factory for converting a renewable — but frustratingly untapped — bounty into a replacement for ubiquitous plastics.
Researchers, like those at the University of Wisconsin–Madison-based, Department of Energy-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, hoping to turn woody plants into a replacement for petroleum in the production of fuels and other chemicals have been after the sugars in the fibrous cellulose that makes up much of the plants’ cell walls.
Much of the work of procuring those sugars involves stripping away lignin, a polymer that fills the gaps between cellulose and other chemical components in those cell walls.
That leaves a lot of useful cellulose, but also a lot of lignin — which has never carried much value. Paper mills have been stripping lignin from wood to make paper for more than a century, and finding so little value in the lignin that it’s simply burned in the mills’ boilers.
“They say you can make anything from lignin except money,” says Miguel Perez, a UW–Madison graduate student in civil and environmental engineering.
But they may not know Novosphingobium aromaticivorans as well as he does.
Perez, civil and environmental engineering professor Daniel Noguera and colleagues at GLBRC and the Wisconsin Energy Institute have published in the journal Green Chemistry a strategy for employing N. aromaticivorans to turn lignin into a more valuable commodity.
“Lignin is the most abundant source — other than petroleum — of aromatic compounds on the planet,” Noguera says, like those used to manufacture chemicals and plastics from petroleum. But the large and complex lignin molecule is notoriously hard to efficiently break into useful constituent pieces.
Enter the bacterium, which was first isolated while thriving in soil rich in aromatic compounds after contamination by petroleum products.
Where other microbes pick and choose, N. aromaticivoransis a biological funnel for the aromatics in lignin. It is unique in that it can digest nearly all of the different pieces of lignin into smaller aromatic hydrocarbons.
“Other microbes tried before may be able to digest a few types of aromatics found in lignin,” Perez says. “When we met this microbe, it was already good at degrading a wide range of compounds. That makes this microbe very promising.”
In the course of its digestion process, the microbe turns those aromatic compounds into 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylic acid — more manageably known as PDC. By removing three genes from their microbe, the researchers turned the intermediate PDC into the end of the line. These engineered bacteria became a funnel into which the different lignin pieces go, and out of which PDC flows.
Bioengineers in Japan have used PDC to make a variety of materials that would be useful for consumer products.
“They have found out the compound performs the same or better than the most common petroleum-based additive to PET polymers — like plastic bottles and synthetic fibers — which are the most common polymers being produced in the world,” Perez says.
It would be an attractive plastic alternative — one that would break down naturally in the environment, and wouldn’t leach hormone-mimicking compounds into water — if only PDC were easier to come by.
“There’s no industrial process for doing that, because PDC is so difficult to make by existing routes,” says Noguera. “But if we’re making biofuels from cellulose and producing lignin — something we used to just burn — and we can efficiently turn the lignin into PDC, that potentially changes the market for industrial use of this compound.”
For now, the engineered variation on N. aromaticivorans can turn at least 59 percent of lignin’s potentially useful compounds into PDC. But the new study suggests greater potential, and Perez has targets for further manipulation of the microbe.
“If we can make this pipeline produce at a sufficient rate, with a sufficient yield, we might create a new industry,” Noguera says.
The Latest on: Lignin
via Google News
The Latest on: Lignin
- Telescopic synthesis of cellulose nanofibrils with a stable dispersion of Fe(0) nanoparticles for synergistic removal of 5-fluorouracilon August 12, 2019 at 2:06 am
In this study, the telescopic approach on the fractionation of lignin and cellulose was performed by organosolv extraction and catalytic oxidation from oil palm empty fruit bunch fibers. The ...
- Lignin Market Size Worth $906.4 Million By 2025 | CAGR: 1.9%on August 9, 2019 at 8:41 am
"Grand View Research, Inc. – Market Research And Consulting." Increasing demand for lignin for the production of macromolecules, which are used in the manufacture of biofuels, bitumen, and ...
- The Lignin Market Value to Hit USD $1 Billion by 2025: Global Market Insights, Inc.on August 8, 2019 at 6:43 am
North American lignin market revenue will surpass USD $330 million by 2025, driven by growing awareness regarding hazards from dust particles. The global lignin market size has witnessed exponential ...
- Quantitative fermentation of unpretreated transgenic poplar by Caldicellulosiruptor besciion August 7, 2019 at 2:21 am
Microbial fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass to produce industrial chemicals is exacerbated by the recalcitrant network of lignin, cellulose and hemicelluloses comprising the plant secondary cell ...
- Alfalfa study tests low-lignin varieties for dairy cattleon August 6, 2019 at 3:58 pm
Kansas State University researchers are ready to launch a study on an alfalfa variety that could be more digestible for dairy cows and easier on producers’ bottom line. Doohong Min, associate ...
- Supercomputing Improves Biomass Fuel Conversionon August 4, 2019 at 2:43 am
TEHRAN (FNA)- Pretreating plant biomass with THF-water causes lignin globules on the cellulose surface to expand and break away from one another and the cellulose fibers. The expanded lignin is ...
- Stora Enso to pilot technology for lignin-based carbon productson July 23, 2019 at 2:45 pm
Finland-based forestry company Stora Enso has announced plans to invest €10 million ($11.15 million) to build a pilot facility that will produce biobased carbon materials from lignin that can be used ...
- Researchers synthesize acetaminophen from ligninon July 5, 2019 at 9:15 am
With a new method to synthesize a popular pain-relieving medication from plants rather than fossil fuels, researchers at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have found a way to relieve two ...
- Global Lignin Products Market Trends, Size, Share, Growth, Top Manufacturers, Recent Development and Forecast by 2023on July 2, 2019 at 6:54 am
Jul 02, 2019 (The Expresswire via COMTEX) -- This Report Provides overview of "Lignin Products Market" 2018 in global region. Also elaborate Company Competition, Market demand, Regional Forecast, ...
- Yanfeng Automotive Interiors and Prisma Renewable Composites Collaborate to Bring Plant-Based Lignin Technology to Vehicle Interiorson June 14, 2019 at 11:57 am
NOVI, Mich. and KNOXVILLE, Tenn., June 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI) and Prisma Renewable Composites announced today that the companies have entered into an agreement ...
via Bing News