Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals: The Twenty–Third Symposium

Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals
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Gothenburg is currently home to around different sectors; the equivalent figure for London is around 1, Thinkershub IBCG aims to be the common platform where international scientists, Industrials and Investors from over 20 countries, from diverse disciplines come together to discuss and share ideas and recent developments in biotechnology research and industries. IBCG Gothenburg is designed to offer latest applied research and development trends, therefore an exciting content is to be anticipated.

We believe these objectives can be achieved through disseminating workshops, symposiums and open discussion forums happening at our Biotechnology Conference Biotechnology has emerged through strategic interactions between science and engineering. Biotechnology involves manipulation and engineering, which leads to useful products that can be used in medicine, agriculture, industry, or environmental control. Biotechnology applications market is divided into biopharmacy, bioservices, bioagriculture and bioindustrial. Biotechnology Technology market has been segmented into fermentation, tissue regeneration, PCR technology, nanobiotechnology , chromatography, DNA sequencing, cell based assay and others.

Biotechnology will provide solutions to disease, hunger, pollution and global warming.


Biotechnology helps people and our planet by developing medical treatments for diseases, creating new renewable fuels that reduce the fossil fuels use and producing innovative technologies that protect our global environment. We need to more than double our current agricultural production levels in order to feed a population of that size. In order to sustainably feed the world, we need to develop farming methods that are environmentally kind and can survive with climate change while increasing the wellbeing of farmers. Agricultural technologies have a number of benefits, including reduced insecticide use, reduced erosion, increased tolerance to environmental disasters such as droughts and floods, and improved nutritional composition that can supplement diets of farmers around the world.

Such estimates vary, depending on factors such as expected private sector investments and oil prices, but it seems that it will take a minimum of five years Rotman, First-generation biofuels, on the other hand, are already being produced in significant commercial quantities in a number of countries. World production has increased steadily in recent years, with production currently dominated by two countries, the United States and Brazil, and one type of fuel, bioethanol. Estimates for global production of fuel ethanol indicate that it has tripled from to to reach 52 billion litres.

Although the United States and, to a lesser degree, Brazil accounted for most of this growth, a large number of other countries also began or increased production in this period OECD-FAO, Globally, most bioethanol production is from two crops, maize and sugar cane, although other significant crops include cassava, rice, sugar beet and wheat. In Brazil, most of the bioethanol is produced from sugar cane while in the United States it is from maize.

Of the estimated 52 billion litres of bioethanol produced in , For biodiesel, there has also been a major rise in global production over the same period, increasing from less than 1 billion litres in to over 10 billion litres in The most popular feedstocks used for biodiesel production are rapeseed in the EU, soybean in Brazil and the United States and palm, coconut and castor oils in tropical and subtropical countries, with growing interest in jatropha.

Of the estimated What about the future? The latest OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook report provides an assessment of future prospects in the major agricultural commodity markets over the period to and, for the first time, includes an analysis of and projections for global biofuel markets for bioethanol and biodiesel OECD-FAO, While noting that a number of uncertainties such as oil prices and government policies affect their projections, they predict that global ethanol production will continue to increase so that the quantity produced in will double that of It predicts that the United States and Brazil will continue to be the largest ethanol producers through to but also that production in several other countries, including China, India and Thailand, will grow rapidly.

Policy interventions, especially in the form of subsidies and mandated blending of biofuels with fossil fuels, are driving the rush to liquid biofuels FAO, c. Also, the United States Congress in December passed the Energy Independence and Security Act which, inter alia, sets required minimum annual levels of renewable fuel biofuel in United States transportation fuel, beginning at about 34 billion litres in and rising to about billion litres in Zarrilli, Biofuel development in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD countries has therefore been promoted and supported by government policies and a growing number of developing countries are also beginning to introduce policies to promote biofuels FAO, c.

Analysis indicates that, with the exception of bioethanol from sugar cane in Brazil, biofuels are generally not economically competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies FAO, c. As summarised by OECD-FAO , "changes in biofuel policies, either to raise or to lower domestic targets or to review current policy incentives downwards, could be of major importance for agricultural markets given that biofuel production is one of the important factors lending strength to these markets over the medium term".

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In Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals: The Twenty-Third Symposium, leading US and international researchers from academia, industry, and government. Buy Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals: The Twenty-Third Symposium ( ABAB Symposium) on ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders.

As mentioned above, many governments are actively encouraging liquid biofuel production in their countries. A number of policy mechanisms are being used by governments for this purpose, including feed-in tariffs where a regulatory minimum guaranteed price is paid for renewable power fed into the electricity grid , taxes, guaranteed markets, compulsory grid connections for renewable energy producers and other direct support for bioenergy production, such as grants, loans and subsidies GBEP, Government policies are therefore playing a key role in influencing investment in bioenergy.

Following GBEP , there are four main factors driving the current interest in liquid biofuels:. In recent years, the average price per barrel of oil has increased steadily e. Over the next decade, OECD-FAO predicts that world oil prices are also likely to remain high relative to historical levels and their report assumes prices will increase from 90 USD in to USD in , while noting that there is major uncertainty about future oil prices. For countries dependent on oil or natural gas imports, biofuels offer a way to diversify energy supplies and reduce their reliance on a few exporting countries.

Anthropogenic human-induced climate change has recently become a well established fact and the resulting impact on the environment is already being observed e. FAO, b. Because of increased atmospheric concentrations of so-called greenhouse gases GHGs, such as carbon dioxide CO2 , methane CH4 , nitrous oxide NO2 and chlorofluorocarbons , the average temperature of the earth's surface has increased. To mitigate climate change, countries have committed themselves to varying degrees to reducing GHG release into the atmosphere.

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For example, the Kyoto Protocol , ratified by countries and the EU, which entered into force in , sets legally binding targets and timetables for cutting GHG emissions for the world's leading economies which have accepted it. In this context, replacement of fossil fuels, such as petrol, by biofuels for transport purposes has been advocated as an option for a country to reduce its GHG emissions.

This is because most life-cycle studies indicate that the use of biofuels instead of fossil fuels reduces GHG emissions, as biofuels sequester carbon through growth of the feedstock e. Searchinger et al.

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These life-cycle studies typically estimate that when biofuel and fossil fuel GHG emissions are compared during the steps of making the feedstocks e. However, when the calculations also include the fact that the growing biofuel feedstocks remove sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, the overall GHG emissions from biofuels are typically estimated to be lower than those from fossil fuels Searchinger et al. Cultivation of biofuels can contribute to maintaining employment and creating new jobs in rural areas, avoiding land abandonment and reducing migration to cities.

The importance for developing countries is underlined by Zarrilli : "For both developed and developing countries alike, the bio-based economy may boost employment and revenues in rural areas and revitalize them. It may offer new end-markets for agricultural products and therefore add value to them. All these goals are crucially important for all countries, but particularly for developing countries". Similarly, FAO c points out that the increasing demand for biofuels may offer opportunities for farmers and rural communities in developing countries and thus contribute to rural development.

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However, the report cautions that their capacity to take advantage of these opportunities depends on the existence of an enabling environment and that, at the global level, current trade policies do not favour developing country participation or an efficient international pattern of biofuel production while at the domestic level, farmers depend critically on the existence of an appropriate policy framework and the necessary physical and institutional infrastructure FAO, c.

As noted in the Introduction, production of liquid biofuels for transport purposes is currently quite controversial and has led to concerns about a number of issues, such as:. Agricultural commodity prices rose sharply towards the end of and in and continued to rise even more sharply in early before stabilising and then declining to below January levels. The surge in prices has been seen in almost all major food and feed commodities. The driving forces behind the soaring food prices are many and complex, where both supply-side and demand-side factors play a part. One of the demand-side factors underlying the current state of the markets is the demand from the biofuel industry for agricultural commodities such as sugar, maize, cassava, oilseeds and palm oil FAO, d.

Increased demand for these commodities has been one of the leading reasons for the increase in their prices in world markets, which in turn has led to higher food prices. Compared to the period , it predicts that average agricultural commodity prices will be substantially higher for the period e. The demand for biofuels is one of the main factors underlying their projections as "biofuel demand is the largest source of new demand in decades and a strong factor underpinning the upward shift in agricultural commodity prices" OECD-FAO, The Earth's land surface covers about Of these, roughly 1.

It has also resulted in farmers switching from non-biofuel crops such as rice to biofuel crops. It has also led to forests, peatlands, savannas and grasslands being converted to agricultural lands for biofuel production or for non-biofuel crop production, to replace agricultural land that has already been diverted to biofuel production Fargione et al. The conversion of natural lands, such as wetlands and natural forests, for biofuel production represents an important threat to biodiversity through the loss of habitats, their biodiversity components and the loss of essential ecosystem services.

In addition, the large-scale ploughing of non-agricultural land and pasture land as well as peatland degradation could result in substantive release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere SBSTTA, For example, Fargione et al. Their results suggested that if produced on converted land, then biofuels could, for long periods of time, be much greater net emitters of GHGs than the fossil fuels they typically displace.

As described in the Background Document to the previous e-mail conference of this Forum, scarcity of water is one of the major global problems facing humankind at the moment and it is likely to be an ever increasing problem in the future. Furthermore, there will be more intense competition from the industrial and municipal sectors for the water resources available for agriculture in the future, despite the fact that there will also be an ever-increasing demand for water in agriculture to meet the needs of the growing world population FAO, In water-short countries where agriculture relies essentially on irrigation, increasing production of biofuels will simply add to the strain on stressed water resources because of the large quantities of water required for production of the feedstock and its conversion to biofuel.

Sugar cane and oil palm have high water requirements mm per year , while cassava, castor bean, cotton, maize and soybean, all crops considered suitable for biofuels, require medium levels of water mm per year FAO, b. However, it is the share of irrigation water used to meet these requirements which will influence pressure on water resources. De Fraiture notes that the biomass needed to produce one litre of liquid biofuel evaporates between and litres of water, depending on the type of feedstock and conversion techniques used, and argues that "pursuing biofuel production in water-short countries will put pressure on an already stretched resource and will turn green energy into a major threat to resources".

James D. McMillan (Author of Twenty-Seventh Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals)

As described in the Introduction, a wide range of biotechnologies are available and many of them can be applied for bioenergy production in developing countries. They include, among others, fermentation, genomics and genetic modification and cover applications to micro-organisms, crops and forest trees. In the context of bioenergy production, they can be used to increase the efficiency of both parts of the production cycle i. Here, we will briefly consider some of the kinds of areas where biotechnologies are or can be applied for production of first-generation biofuels Section 3.

Greatest attention is paid to second-generation biofuels because of the large expectations they have created and because of the significant role that biotechnology applications are likely to play in their development. Apart from a range of factors including the amount of rainfall etc.

Estimated bioethanol yields per hectare have been calculated to be about and litres L from sugar cane in Brazil and India respectively, and L from maize in the United States and China respectively and about and L from cassava in Brazil and Nigeria respectively, while for biodiesel, estimated yields per hectare are and L from oil palm in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively and and L from soybean in the United States and Brazil respectively FAO, c, Table 2.

One way in which biotechnologies or, indeed, conventional plant breeding could contribute is by improving biomass production. Varieties could be selected with increased biomass per hectare, increased yields of oils biodiesel crops or fermentable sugars bioethanol crops or with improvements in characteristics relevant for their conversion to biofuels. As little genetic selection has been carried out in the past for biofuel characteristics in most of these species, considerable genetic improvement should be possible.

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The field of genomics is likely to play an important role here. Genomics is the study of an organism's genome i. The goal of modern plant genomics is to understand how plants do what they do i. Draft genomes of several first-generation feedstocks, such as maize, sorghum and soybean, are in the pipeline or have already been published.

For example, the project to sequence the genetic code of soybean Glycine max began in and is expected to be completed in Apart from genomics, a range of other biotechnologies can also be used, such as marker-assisted selection and genetic modification. For example, Murphy describes how the task of oil palm breeders can be facilitated by biotechnologies such as marker-assisted selection where DNA markers can be used to identify genetically-superior individuals when they are just weeks old rather than when the trees are years old, after they produce the fruits that are the source of the oil or tissue culture applied to multiply up genetically superior trees.

Another area where biotechnology can be applied is in improving the conversion of biomass to liquid biofuels. For example, as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae cannot directly ferment starchy materials e. In the past, enzymes were isolated primarily from plant and animal sources, and thus a relatively limited number of enzymes were available. Today, bacteria and fungi are exploited and used for the commercial production of a diversity of enzymes. Several strains of micro-organisms have been selected or genetically modified to increase the efficiency with which they produce enzymes.

In most cases, the modified genes are of microbial origin, although they may also come from different kingdoms FAO, a, section 6. Many of the current commercially available enzymes, including amylases, are produced using genetically modified GM micro-organisms where the enzymes are produced in closed fermentation tank installations e. Novozymes, The final enzyme product does not contain GM micro-organisms.

Royal Society suggests that as the current usage of GM micro-organisms within fermentation systems involves keeping them in contained environments such as fermentation vats, then genetic modification is a far less contentious issue here than with GM crops. To reduce costs and increase the efficiency of bioconversion, research is also ongoing to develop GM yeast strains which produce the amylases themselves so that the saccharification and fermentation steps can be combined, as well as to develop GM maize plants which can produce the amylases Royal Society, After fermentation, the ethanol produced needs to be separated from the dilute solution using distillation.

The step requires a lot of energy and could be made more efficient by genetically improving the micro-organisms used in the fermentation process so that the ethanol concentration is increased prior to distillation Royal Society, Because of the kinds of concerns mentioned in Section 2. If second-generation biofuels are to become a reality in the future some technological breakthroughs are needed, and applications of biotechnology in this context are discussed here. However, it should be noted that these biotechnology breakthroughs alone will not be enough.

Second-generation biofuels will also have to be economically viable and environmentally sustainable, which will depend on a series of factors, including the logistical challenge of collecting and transporting large amounts in quantity and volume of LC biomass to the biofuel production facilities Doornbosch and Steenblik, This may require that the LC biomass is produced close to the processing site, which can be a disadvantage for developing countries who at the moment have the option of producing feedstock that can be shipped, processed or semi-processed, for further conversion in the country of use.

Also, competition for land and other inputs will remain a challenge and it is not certain that all the concerns related to use of first-generation biofuels will be alleviated by second-generation biofuels. FAO c also notes that excessive withdrawal of agricultural residues for bioenergy purposes could negatively impact soil fertility and quality by removing decomposing biomass. The LC biomass needed for second-generation biofuels can come from two main sources. The first source is from by-products, such as agricultural residues like sugar cane bagasse, corn stover, straws from barley, oats, rice, wheat and sorghum; residues from the pulp and paper industry; and municipal cellulosic solid wastes.

For example, Bon and Ferrara predict that in Brazil there will eventually be significant production of bioethanol from sugar cane bagasse and straw, materials that are available on a large-scale. The second source is from dedicated biomass feedstocks, grown specifically for the purpose of biofuel production, such as perennial grasses and short-rotation forest trees Tuskan, As with first-generation biofuels, applications of biotechnologies can be considered separately for production of biomass and for conversion of the biomass to biofuels. For example, cereal production has been optimised for grain yield but the crops have not been bred for straw quality in relation to its use as biomass for biofuel purposes Royal Society, Substantial room for genetic improvement therefore exists.

Thus, information from genomic projects of first-generation biofuel crops, such as those mentioned in Section 3. Some examples of ongoing research projects in this area include attempts to: identify and isolate genes in sweet sorghum that control the high stalk sugar trait and a decreased stalk lignin trait, in order to combine both traits within the same plant; identify genes that regulate cell wall synthesis in rice, in order to genetically manipulate them to change the cell wall composition for cost efficient ethanol fermentation; and optimise the use of DNA markers to simultaneously breed for high grain yield for energy or non-energy purposes and high stover quality for ethanol production in maize USDOE, Concerning dedicated biomass feedstocks, a range of potential candidates are of interest.

They include perennial grasses i. They also include tree species such as the poplar and eucalyptus. As for some of the first-generation biofuel species, the genomes of a number of second-generation species are also being sequenced. For example, the recent announcement that the eucalyptus tree genome is to be sequenced is important because eucalyptus species are the most widely planted hardwood trees in the world occupying more than 18 million hectares , supplying woody biomass for several industrial applications.

The challenges and potential of applying new molecular techniques and approaches to eucalyptus breeding for traits such as those relevant to biofuel purposes have recently been reviewed by Grattapaglia The eucalyptus genome will be the second tree genome to be sequenced following that of the poplar already published in Tuskan describes how the genomics information of the poplar can be used in combination with the extensive knowledge already available about important identified genes of other species, such as rice or the model species Arabidopsis, to identify equivalent homologous genes in the poplar so that trees with desirable properties for biomass production can be developed.

Apart from genomics, other biotechnologies can also be applied. For example, Sticklen reviews some of the ways in which genetic modification can be applied to improve the biomass characteristics of plants for biofuels, including development of crop varieties that produce less lignin; that self-produce cellulase enzymes for cellulose degradation and ligninase enzymes for lignin degradation; or that have increased cellulose or overall biomass yields.

As mentioned earlier, LC biomass can be converted to biofuels in two main ways, by thermo-chemical or biochemical processing Larson, and here we will discuss biochemical processing, because of the extensive applications of biotechnology involved. Depending on factors such as the kind of feedstock available, biochemical conversion of LC biomass to liquid biofuels can follow a number of different pathways, in which four major steps can generally be identified Balat et al.

First is pre-treatment of the biomass, which promotes the physical disruption of the LC matrix. This is necessary because the LC materials are structured for strength and resistance to biological, physical and chemical attack Bon and Ferrara, Pre-treatment can be carried out in a number of ways e. Second is hydrolysis i. According to Royal Society , the current trend is towards enzymatic hydrolysis to avoid costly recovery and wastewater treatment requirements resulting from the use of acid.

Balat et al. The importance and interest in enzymatic hydrolysis has renewed and increased the focus on several aspects of cellulases i. These include the search for high cellulase-producing organisms; the production of hypercellulolytic mutants i. Engineering of enzymes using advanced biotechnologies is ongoing to develop enzymes with improved characteristics such as higher efficiencies, increased stability at elevated temperatures and at certain pH levels and higher tolerance to end-product inhibition Bon and Ferrara, Among others, these include strains of fungi of Trichoderma, Penicillium or Chrysosporium species and bacteria of Bacillus, Clostridium or Cellulomonas species.

For example, Tuskan describes some genome sequencing projects that are aiming ultimately to find genes to produce new enzymes for plant cell wall breakdown. These include projects focusing on specific micro-organisms known to have desirable biomass-degrading characteristics, such as the bacterium Clostridium thermocellum which degrades cellulosic materials using a large extracellular cellulase system called the cellulosome or the white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium which produces enzymes that degrade lignin or the bacterial community resident in the hindgut of a wood-feeding termite.

The third step is fermentation of the sugars, resulting from the breakdown of cellulose and hemicellulose, to bioethanol. Unlike production of bioethanol from first-generation sugar crops or starchy materials, fermentation is more complicated here as it is a mixed-sugar fermentation involving pentose and hexose sugars and it takes place in the presence of inhibiting compounds released and formed during the first two steps of the process, i.

Because of their larger sizes, thicker cell walls, better growth at low pH, less stringent nutritional requirements and greater resistance to contamination, yeasts are preferred to bacteria for commercial fermentations Jeffries, To overcome these problems, several different approaches are being explored.

One is to develop efficient xylose-fermenting strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae using a range of biotechnologies, including genetic modification where genes to enable xylose fermentation are transferred from the yeast Pichia stipitis, the bacteria Thermus thermophilus or the fungus Piromyces species and global gene expression analysis combined with targeted deletion or altered expression of key genes Jeffries, Another approach is to focus on yeast species that naturally ferment xylose.

For example, Pichia stipitis is a well-studied natural xylose-fermenting yeast. The recent reporting of its genome sequence, predicting over genes, is important in this context as the genetic information can be employed to improve usefulness of this yeast for commercial fermentation operations Jeffries et al. The optimism regarding these approaches is summarised by Jeffries : "Genomic and expression analysis of Pichia stipitis along with new strains from nature should continue to drive this field forward.

The eventual goal is a yeast that is capable of efficiently fermenting glucose, xylose and other minor sugars to ethanol, and progress is being made on multiple fronts". Another approach is to focus on bacteria instead of yeast. Three bacterial species that have received much attention are Escherichia coli, Klebsiella oxytoca and Zymomonas mobilis and GM strains have been produced for each of them for bioethanol purposes.

However, another emerging theme was the importance of examining and optimizing the entire biorefining process rather than just its bioconversion-related elements. Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series. Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Brian H. Add to basket. Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Mark Finkelstein. Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals Jonathan R. Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals William S.

Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals James D.

Back cover copy In Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals: The Twenty-Seventh Symposium, leading US and international researchers from academia, industry, and government exchange cutting-edge technical information and update current trends in the development and application of biotechnology for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals.

This symposium emphasizes advances in biotechnology to produce high-volume, low-price products from renewable resources, while improving the environment. The major areas of interest include advanced feedstock production and processing, enzymatic and microbial biocatalysis, bioprocess research and development, opportunities in biorefineries, and commercialization of biobased products.