Stories tagged bio-fuels

Oct
11
2010

Industrial hemp: Fields of green, etc, etc. Don't be tedious.
Industrial hemp: Fields of green, etc, etc. Don't be tedious.Courtesy Aleks
Oh, happy day! It was getting dry out there, Buzzketeers. I’m referring, of course, to the dearth of hilarious science news items; everything is extinction this, cancer that, radioactive this, greenish discharge that. If you wanted to write a clever and humorous article about scientific research, you’d have to lower yourself to making fun of oil-covered seabirds, or the stupid things babies do when they’re learning. Ugh.

But not any more, thanks to researchers at the University of Connecticut. By exploring the potential of industrial hemp to be a bio-fuel feedstock, they have opened up a plentiful new source of raw material for puns.

We could spend hours discussing how “green” the research is! Ha ha ha! Or, like, the high expectations scientists have for technology that can convert up to 97% of the oil from hemp seeds (a commonly discarded byproduct in hemp farming) into biodiesel. Ho ho ho ha!

Or what about this: there’s been a lot of… buzz surrounding biofuel production, because it could potentially remove food crops and high quality land from our food production system. But because hemp—which is typically grown for its fibers—can grow on relatively poor-quality land, it shouldn’t affect our production of munchies! Ha ha hahahahaaa!

It turns out that industrial hemp has a lot of applications, but it can’t be used as a drug! Ha ha… Oh, wait, I guess that wasn’t really a pun.

In any case, it’s illegal to grow industrial hemp in 41 states, so this one is probably just for other countries.

PS—Drug abuse isn’t any funnier than drug-related puns. Don’t yell at me.

Aug
22
2010

Fermentation of Straw
Fermentation of StrawCourtesy Martinonline

Beet wine

As a youngster, I watched my mom make wine from beet juice. She put yeast on a piece of toast and floated it in a crock full of beet juice. A few weeks later I discovered the effects of intoxification when I sneaked too many sips.

Making a stronger brew

Alcoholic drinks like beer or wine and biofuels like ethanol or iso-butanol are manufactured by adding yeast to a liquid mixture containing sugar. Yeast will die, though, when the alcohol content is too high. If yeast could be modified to withstand a higher alcohol content, the alcohol yield from fermentation would be higher. This would make biofuel production more economical.

Gene modified yeast should make biofuel production more economical

A University of Illinois reseach paper in August 20 issue of the Journal of Biotechnology describes how an overexpression of certain genes effected alcohol yields. "One strain in which INO1 was overexpressed elicited an increase of more than 70 percent for ethanol volume and more than 340 percent for ethanol tolerance when compared to the control strain".

Yong-Su Jin and colleages from the University of Illinois metabolic engineer, worked with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the microbe most often used in making ethanol, to identify four genes (MSN2, DOG1, HAL1, and INO1) that improve tolerance to ethanol and iso-butanol when they are overexpressed.
Further study of these genes should increase alcohol tolerance even further, and that will translate into cost savings and greater efficiency during biofuel production. U of Illinois press release