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When we talk about biofuel we must make a clear distinction. There are the biofuels that destroy the planet because they steal land from agriculture and push up food prices and then there are biofuels of the latest generation, those synthesized in the laboratory from bacteria or microorganisms. A novelty comes from researchers from the Department of Energy (DOE) who have identified an enzyme capable of increasing the amount of galactan present in plant cell walls.
The plant cells of plants contain various sugary substances, including galactate, a derivative of a sugar with six carbon atoms. The peculiarity of this greedy is that it is easily fermentable and convertible into bioethanol. The galactan was, for a long time, under the magnifying glass of researchers who, using yeasts, wanted to convert cellulosic bioasside in biofuel.
The biofuel produced from galactan it could readily replace fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet-fuel. The engines should not be modified, moreover, the biofuel produced from galactan it should not combine with any petroleum derivatives. More importantly, the biofuel in question could be carbon neutral. It could be burnt without increasing the harmful emissions in the atmosphere.
As the researchers of the laboratories of the Berkeley, the main challenge is to maximize the amount of sugars in the plant cell wall, in particular, to increase the amount of galactan. The researchers discovered the identity of theGT92 enzyme, the first enzyme isolated for its ability in biosynthesis of galactane. Thanks to this discovery, the prerequisites for the design of bioenergy crops advanced for fuel production. The enzyme in question is the β-1, 4-galactane synthase, codenamed "GT92".
The research was meticulously described in the journal Planet Cell. At this address you can find the release of the Berkeley Lab.