Nature News Feature on Biofuels Focuses on DOE Research
A four-page article in the February 21, 2008, issue of Nature discusses how biotechnology is seeking innovations that will provide new, appropriate sources of biofuels. Most of the scientists featured in the article are funded by the Office of Biological & Environmental Research’s Genomics: GTL program. The article quotes Jay Keasling of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Director of BER’s Joint BioEnergy Institute about efforts to find biofuel alternatives to ethanol. The article describes research into microbial routes to higher alcohols such as isobutanol by James Liao of the UCLA-DOE Institute of Genomics and Proteomics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The challenges of converting cellulose into sugars that are readily converted to fuel are discussed by Lee Lynd of Dartmouth College and Mascoma Corporation, which is part of BER’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC). Issues of scale-up of new processes for production of fuels are addressed in the article by Craig Venter, founder of Synthetic Genomics and the J. Craig Venter Institute, and Michael Himmel of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and BESC. There also is an editorial in this issue of Nature about the mandate in the Clean Energy Act of 2007 to switch to cellulose-based biofuels and the research needed to achieve it.