Scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed an enzyme—called CelA—that can convert biomass such as trees, grasses, and agricultural residue to sugars up to 14 times faster and much more cheaply than competing catalysts used in biofuel production.
If the enzyme performs well in larger tests, it could help drive down the cost of converting cellulose to biofuels including cellulosic ethanol, drop-in hydrocarbon fuel, jet fuel, and diesel fuel. Read more on the NREL press release.
NREL’s biomass research program is funded by the Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and is the largest national laboratory bioenergy program across the eleven Energy Department national laboratories that conduct bioenergy research. BETO’s Biochemical Conversion Technology Area—along with its other technology areas across the bioenergy supply chain—aims to drive down the cost of biofuel from non-food sources to a level cost-competitive with petroleum fuel.