Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center Celebrates First Issued Patent
The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) is marking the arrival of summer with a milestone: the first patent issued on GLBRC technology. The patent protects a new heat-tolerant enzyme capable of breaking down the sturdy plant cell walls of cellulosic biomass into biofuel. The pioneering piece of intellectual property is based on research conducted at the GLBRC’s Middleton, Wisconsin-based industry partner, C5•6 Technologies.
Cellulosic biomass, the leaves, stems and other non-edible parts of plants like grasses and corn, is valued for its potential to help replace fossil fuels as a renewable energy source. The patented discovery makes it possible to transfer from laboratory to industry a technology that converts biomass to ethanol and other advanced biofuels.
"We've reached a milepost—this patent signifies the maturation of the GLBRC,” says David Pluymers, the center’s intellectual property manager.
Phil Brumm, C5•6’s Chief Scientific Officer, agrees that this achievement symbolizes the development of a successful collaboration among the GLBRC, C5•6 and its partner company, Lucigen, since the center was established by a Department of Energy grant in 2007.
"It is a sign of how well the collaboration between the university and industry is progressing,” Brumm says.
Produced by a species of bacteria called Dictyoglomus turgidum, the newly patented enzyme is found in the hot springs of Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. The microbial samples of D. turgidum from the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Obsidian Hot Spring at Yellowstone National Park were sequenced by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute. Heat-tolerant enzymes are prime candidates for use in biofuel labs because researchers use scalding temperatures to help weaken the sturdy cellulose polymers that hold plant cell walls together.
Submitted by csmith on Mon, 2012-06-18 11:38