Promoting Clean Technologies ^ Forging Cross-Industry Collaboration

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

JBEI and LS9 Biotechnology of SF converting Biomass to fuel with microbes: huge money saving potential

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, Power Grid, Science, Sustainable, Technology, Venture Capital on January 31, 2010 at 10:59 am

The secret to cheap, sustainable fuel from waste is near and natural. We have microbes that can get the job done without expensive chemical conversions.

Bookmark and Share

Read about it in Science Daily.

ScienceDaily (Jan. 31, 2010) — A collaboration led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has developed a microbe that can produce an advanced biofuel directly from biomass. Deploying the tools of synthetic biology, the JBEI researchers engineered a strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria to produce biodiesel fuel and other important chemicals derived from fatty acids.
See Also:
Plants & Animals
Matter & Energy
Fossil Fuels
Energy Policy
Earth & Climate
Energy and the Environment
Renewable Energy
Biomass (ecology)
Distributed generation
“The fact that our microbes can produce a diesel fuel directly from biomass with no additional chemical modifications is exciting and important,” says Jay Keasling, the Chief Executive Officer for JBEI, and a leading scientific authority on synthetic biology. “Given that the costs of recovering biodiesel are nowhere near the costs required to distill ethanol, we believe our results can significantly contribute to the ultimate goal of producing scalable and cost effective advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals.”
Keasling led the collaboration, which was was made up of a team from JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division that included Eric Steen, Yisheng Kang and Gregory Bokinsky, and a team from LS9, a privately-held industrial biotechnology firm based in South San Francisco. The LS9 team was headed by Stephen del Cardayre and included Zhihao Hu, Andreas Schirmer and Amy McClure. The collaboration has published the results of their research in the January 28, 2010 edition of the journal Nature. The paper is titled, “Microbial Production of Fatty Acid-Derived Fuels and Chemicals from Plant Biomass.”
A combination of ever-increasing energy costs and global warming concerns has created an international imperative for new transportation fuels that are renewable and can be produced in a sustainable fashion. Scientific studies have consistently shown that liquid fuels derived from plant biomass are one of the best alternatives if a cost-effective means of commercial production can be found. Major research efforts to this end are focused on fatty acids — the energy-rich molecules in living cells that have been dubbed nature’s petroleum.
Fuels and chemicals have been produced from the fatty acids in plant and animal oils for more than a century. These oils now serve as the raw materials not only for biodiesel fuel, but also for a wide range of important chemical products including surfactants, solvents and lubricants.
“The increased demand and limited supply of these oils has resulted in competition with food, higher prices, questionable land-use practices and environmental concerns associated with their production,” Keasling says. “A more scalable, controllable, and economic alternative route to these fuels and chemicals would be through the microbial conversion of renewable feedstocks, such as biomass-derived carbohydrates.”
E. coli isa well-studied microorganism whose natural ability to synthesize fatty acids and exceptional amenability to genetic manipulation make it an ideal target for biofuels research. The combination of E. coli with new biochemical reactions realized through synthetic biology, enabled Keasling, Steen and their colleagues to produce structurally tailored fatty esters (biodiesel), alcohols and waxes directly from simple sugars.
“Biosynthesis of microbial fatty acids produces fatty acids bound to a carrier protein, the accumulation of which inhibits the making of additional fatty acids,” Steen says. “Normally E. coli doesn’t waste energy making excess fat, but by cleaving fatty acids from their carrier proteins, we’re able to unlock the natural regulation and make an abundance of fatty acids that can be converted into a number of valuable products. Further, we engineered our E. coli to no longer eat fatty acids or use them for energy.”
After successfully diverting fatty acid metabolism toward the production of fuels and other chemicals from glucose, the JBEI researchers engineered their new strain of E. coli to produce hemicellulases — enzymes that are able to ferment hemicellulose, the complex sugars that are a major constituent of cellulosic biomass and a prime repository for the energy locked within plant cell walls.
“Engineering E. coli to produce hemicellulases enables the microbes to produce fuels directly from the biomass of plants that are not used as food for humans or feed for animals,” Steen says. “Currently, biochemical processing of cellulosic biomass requires costly enzymes for sugar liberation. By giving the E. coli the capacity to ferment both cellulose and hemicellulose without the addition of expensive enzymes, we can improve the economics of cellulosic biofuels.”
The JBEI team is now working on maximizing the efficiency and the speed by which their engineered strain of E. coli can directly convert biomass into biodiesel. They are also looking into ways of maximizing the total amount of biodiesel that can be produced from a single fermentation.
“Productivity, titer and efficient conversion of feedstock into fuelare the three most important factors for engineering microbes that can produce biofuels on an industrial scale,” Steen says. “There is still much more research to do before this process becomes commercially feasible.”
This research was supported by funds from LS9, Inc., and the UC Discovery Grant program. LS9 is using synthetic biology techniques to develop patent-pending UltraClean™ fuels and sustainable chemicals. The UC Discovery Grant program is a three-way partnership between the University of California, private industry and the state of California that is aimed at strengthening and expanding California’s economy through targeted fields of research.

Bookmark and Share

Department of Energy DOE: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Peer Review Best Practices Workshop

In building, cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, finance, greentech, maintech, Power Grid, Science, Solar, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on January 27, 2010 at 11:10 pm

This Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) sponsored event was designed to help DOE employees improve the grant review process. Had it been open to the public… it would have been of great interest to anyone trying to get government funding in the renewable energy arena.

It was a privilege to attend this event.

Jim Turner at the Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) put on a stellar speaker panel and provided participants with the opportunity to meet the experts in the funding process. A select group of speaker presentations are listed below. One of the best featured speakers included D. Wayne Silby (Chair), Founding Chair of the Calvert Funds; Co-chair, Calvert Social Investment Foundation; Chair-elect and Principal, Catherine Hunt, Dow, Director of Technology Collaboration Development was engaging and informative about finding practical solutions to industry problems.

The agenda and presentations are included below:

EERE Peer Review Best Practices Workshop
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
1307 New York Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005
8:30 am Continental Breakfast

9:00 am Welcome : Peter McPherson, President, APLU

9:05 am Opening Remarks:Henry Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

9:15 am Keynote : Bill Bonvillian, Director of Federal Relations, MIT

9:45 am Peer Review Best Practices: Basic Science
Moderator: Jim Turner, Energy Programs, APLU

  • W. Lance Haworth, Director of Office of Integrative Activities, NSF
  • David T. George, Director, Office of Scientific Review, NIBIB, NIH
  • Linda Blevins, Senior Technical Advisor, Office of Science, DOE
  • Diana Jerkins, Interim Integrated Programs Director, Competitive Programs Unit, NIFA, USDA

11:15 am Peer Review Best Practices: Applied Research and Technology Development
Moderator: JoAnn Milliken, EERE

  • Marc Stanley, Deputy Director, NIST
  • Arun Majumdar, Director, ARPA-E
  • Julie A. Christodoulou, Director, Naval Materials Division, ONR
  • Lita Nelsen, Technology Licensing Office, MIT

12:30 pm Lunch

1:00 pm Peer Review Best Practices: Private Sector and Academic
Moderator: Jim Turner, Energy Programs, APLU

  • Catherine Hunt, Dow, Director of Technology Collaboration Development
  • Supratik Guha, Senior Manager, Semiconductor Materials and Devices,
  • Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM
  • Wayne Silby, Chairman, Calvert Special Equities
  • Mike Witherell, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California at Santa Barbara and former head of Fermilab

2:15 pm Alternate Approaches to Peer Review

  • Ken Gabriel, Deputy Director, DARPA
  • Doug Comstock, Director, Innovative Partnerships Program, NASA

3:00 pm Public Comment Period

:: EERE Peer Review Best Practices Workshop Agenda
:: EERE Peer Review Best Practices Workshop Speaker Bios
Powerpoint Presentations
  1. :: Henry Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary,
  2. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
  3. :: W. Lance Haworth, Director of Office of Integrative Activities, NSF
  4. :: Linda Blevins, Senior Technical Advisor, Office of Science, DOE
  5. :: Diana Jerkins, Interim Integrated Programs Director, Competitive Programs Unit, NIFA, USDA
  6. :: Marc Stanley, Deputy Director, NIST
  7. :: Julie A. Christodoulou, Director, Naval Materials Division, ONR

Clean Energy Week Events 2010 in Washington DC

In cleantech, Energy, Environment, greentech, Power Grid, Solar, Sustainable, Technology on January 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Complete list of events:

National Coalition of Organizations Create Clean Energy Week, Washington DC — February 1st – 5th, 2010

Organizations nationwide are joining together to maximize efforts to move clean energy to the forefront of national policy. Officially declaring February 1-5, 2010 as Clean Energy Week, a growing list of partners are working together to produce a high-impact week of powerful and effective activities and events.

Clean Energy Week, February 1-5, highlights:

  • February 1: Clean Energy Week Press Conference – Presented by ACORE, Alliance to Save Energy, and the Clean Economy Network. National Press Club, Holeman Room, 9:30am
  • February 1-5: NASEO State Energy Policy and Technology Outlook Conference
  • February 2-3: Business Advocacy Day for Jobs, Climate & New Energy Leadership – Clean Economy Network and Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy. More Information
  • February 3-5: RETECH 2010 Conference & Exhibition, Washington DC Convention Center
  • February 4: Finance Education Day by the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (US PREF)
  • February 4: Clean Energy Breakfast Roundtable – with Special Hill Guest Speaker. 8am (Clean Technology & Sustainable Industries Organization, Clean Economy Network and K&L Gates). Please contact CTSI or for an invite. Free with Invite
  • February 4: Renewable Energy Interactive Webinar (World Team Now) – 2:30-4pm. For more information and to register. Free Webinar
  • February 4: Buy Clean Energy 2010 Program Launch (Center for Resource Solutions). More information available! – Open Opportunity
  • February 4: A cutting-edge feed-in tariff that has the potential to transform New York State into a leading center for renewable-energy investment and job creation will be discussed in a public forum at the Cooper Union’s Great Hall in NYC at 6:30 p.m.
  • February 5: Opportunities and Challenges for Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin American and Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy – LAC-CORE, Washington Convention Center: For more information and to register. Free Event

Partners Include:

Landfill Creates Fuel for Garbage Trucks in CA- What’s Maryland going to do about it?

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Technology on January 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm

  • Landfill Creates Fuel for Garbage Trucks
  • So Arnold Schwarzenegger has set the bar high for the other Governors and asked for zero emissions. T. Boone Pickens is answering the call and helping to provide natural gas to all bus and garbage trucks in California. Methane from garbage dumps is a source of dirty but clean local fuel.
    This begs the question- what is our state going to do about it?

    In my case- this means Maryland. Our Governor- Martin O’Malley is green and getting greener. Let’s see him learn from California’s example- don’t let politics get in the way. We have green initiatives- can’t we have the MTA switch to natural gas. If not- why not? The Federal government supports clean fuel and pays most of the bill for new buses. Why can’t ours be clean like California’s?

    LIVERMORE, CALIF. – Hundreds of trash trucks across California are rumbling down city streets using clean fuel made from a dirty source: garbage. The fuel is derived from rotting refuse that San Francisco and Oakland residents and businesses have been discarding in the Altamont landfill since 1980. Since November, the methane gas created from decaying detritus at the 240-acre landfill has been sucked into tubes and sent into an innovative facility that purifies and transforms it into liquefied natural gas. – Altamont, California, best known for the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter concert, now has a new claim to fame- passing gas. Only this time its all good. The Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility is now the worlds largest landfill to liquefied natural gas facility. With the innovative capture technologies in place, methane- a Greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than CO2- is being turned into a resource. The project represents cross sector collaboration with Waste Management, Linde, and the State of California.The captured methane is processed into liquefied natural gas that is powering 300 Waste Management trucks daily, realizing ultra low carbon emissions from the natural gas and saving all that petro diesel and fine particle pollution to boot. WM is hoping to harvest 13,000 gallons of this fuel a day for their fleet. This is a project grand in concept, innovative leadership and scale. Its a great example of once again closing the loop and transforming waste to resources. This approach will provide green jobs and cleaner air for California and the rest of us.

Clean tech gets big piece of venture-capital funding –

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Power Grid, Science, Solar, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on January 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Clean tech gets big piece of venture-capital funding –

Venture-capital funding for clean-technology firms fell 33% in 2009 from the year before, but the sector fared better than others amid a dismal economy, data released Wednesday indicate.

More than $5.6 billion in venture-capital investment went to clean-tech firms — including solar, wind, energy efficiency, transportation and biofuels — last year, say preliminary data from market researcher Cleantech Group and finance firm Deloitte.

Total venture-capital investment has retreated to 2003 levels, but clean tech has reset only to 2007 levels, the Cleantech Group says. “It was a difficult year, but I see clean tech … as the best of the worst,” says Shawn Lesser, founder of finance firm Sustainable World Capital.

The money flow underscores that:

Clean tech has muscle. In 2004, the sector accounted for about 3% of venture-capital investment. That expanded to about 25% in 2009. The sector last year, for the first time, received more private venture capital than any other sector, including software, Cleantech Group says.

Efficiency and transportation are in. The top clean-tech recipient in 2009 was solar, which got 21% of it. But solar investment was down 64% from the previous year, while the transportation and energy-efficiency sectors had record years.

The drop for solar stems from several factors, including the big amounts of money needed to commercialize technologies, says Dallas Kachan, managing director of the Cleantech Group. Meanwhile, energy-efficiency firms — those concentrating on everything from lighting to green building materials — often need less money to bring products or services to market, may rely on more proven technologies and may pose less risk to investors. “They’re not reinventing the wheel,” Kachan says.

Last year, venture capital for transportation — for such things as electric cars and new battery technology — rose 47% to $1.1 billion. Investment in energy efficiency rose 39% to $1 billion.

North America may be slipping. The region is still dominant for clean-tech venture capital, but it’s getting a smaller share than it used to. Last year, North America received 62% of clean-tech venture-capital dollars, down from 72% in 2008, the Cleantech Group says. Europe and Israel took in 29% of 2009 dollars, up from 22% in 2008. That Europe and Israel increased their share of venture-capital funding may reflect the desire for investors to pursue less risky deals in markets where clean tech is already more widely deployed, Lesser says.


In Technology on January 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Halima Aquino
Bolton Hill Consulting, Ltd.