• RSS Energy News

    • DOE Closes $1.4 Billion Loan to Nissan January 28, 2010
      DOE has closed a $1.4 billion loan with Nissan North America, Inc. The automaker will use the funds to build a battery pack manufacturing plant and to retool a Tennessee factory so that it can build the LEAF, an all-electric vehicle. […]
    • California Adopts Nation's First Statewide Green Building Standard January 27, 2010
      California has adopted the first-in-the-nation Green Building Standards Code, which will take effect on January 1, 2011. The code includes mandatory inspections of energy systems for nonresidential buildings, as well as a variety of water conservation measures. […]
    • DOE Closes $465 Million Loan to Tesla Motors January 27, 2010
      DOE has closed on its $465 million loan to Tesla Motors, Inc., which the automaker will use to build two factories. One will be in southern California, producing the Model S electric sedan. The other is in Palo Alto, California, where workers will assemble electric powertrains and vehicle components. […]
  • RSS Renewable Energy

  • RSS Energy And The Environment

    • EPA Announces “Eyes on Drilling” Tipline January 27, 2010
      PHILADELPHIA (January 26, 2010) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the creation of the “Eyes on Drilling” tipline for citizens to report non-emergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development […]
    • Lake Travis ISD Makes List of Top Green Power Purchasers January 25, 2010
      (Dallas, Texas – January 25, 2010) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that for the first time Lake Travis Independent School District, Austin, Texas, appears on EPA’s Top 20 K-12 list of the largest green power purchasers among primary and secondary schools […]
    • Green Power Usage Edged Higher in 2009 among EPA Partners January 25, 2010
      WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top 10 Green Power Partners increased their voluntary green power commitments by more than 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2009, while 300 new organizations joined the Green Power Partnership […]
  • RSS Energy Research

    • LLNL's Dearborn tackles the asteriod threat January 31, 2010
      Dave Dearborn???s mission is to keep us safe from incoming asteroids. […]
    • Center explores low-cost carbon fiber January 31, 2010
      A new, stimulus-funded research center at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could help strengthen the very 'fiber' of America's automotive and energy industries. […]
    • NREL breaks down walls for biofuels January 31, 2010
      Researchers at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and ethanol producers are racing to come up with ways to make ethanol from cellulosic biomass that are cheaper and easier to produce than current methods. […]
  • RSS Agriculture

    • ARS Genetic Analysis Helps Spot Sugarcane Rusts
      Micrograph of orange rust pushing out of a sugarcane leaf. Photo courtesy of Linley Dixon and David Farr, ARS. ARS scientists have analyzed rust fungi from more than 160 sugarcane samples from 25 countries to help breeders and pathologists looking for genetic resistance to rusts, especially the deadly newcomer orange rust. Click the image for more informatio […]
    • ARS Parasite Collections Assist Research and Diagnoses
      The raccoon roundworm specimens that ARS zoologist Eric Hoberg is examining are part of the U.S. National Parasite Collection in Beltsville, Md. Click the image for more information about it. Parasites and global change: past patters, future projections   Areawide approach to fire ant control   ARS Parasite Collections Assist Research and Diagnoses By Shar […]
    • Helpful Yeast Battles Food-Contaminating Aflatoxin
      Spraying a yeast called Pichia anomala onto almond, pistachios, or other nut trees is an environmentally friendly approach recently developed by ARS scientists for controlling aflatoxin-producing molds. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California. Deconstructing a deadly mold, gene by gene   Tasty nuts' natural defense: Caffeic acid?   Walnuts […]
  • RSS Food, Drugs And Health

    • FDA Statement on the Investigation into the Salmonella Montevideo Outbreak
      The Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and other states in the investigation of an outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo infection associated with certain salami products. […]
    • FDA Expands Use of Approved Breast Cancer Drug
      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Tykerb (lapatinib) in combination with Femara (letrozole) to treat hormone positive and HER2-positive advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women for whom hormonal therapy is indicated. […]
    • United States Seizes Unapproved Ozone Generators
      At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Marshals today seized 79 ozone generators, models AOS-1M and AOS-1MD, from Applied Ozone Systems of Auburn, Calif. The seized goods, which are medical devices, are valued at $75,900. […]
    • FDA Announces Class I Recall of Certain Infusion Set Needles
      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a Class I recall of Exel/Exelint Huber needles, Exel/Exelint Huber Infusion Sets and Exel/Exelint “Securetouch+” Safety Huber Infusion Sets, manufactured by Nipro Medical Corporation for Exelint International Corporation. […]
    • FDA Approves Morphine Sulfate Oral Solution for Relief of Acute and Chronic Pain
      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Morphine Sulfate Oral Solution for the relief of moderate to severe, acute and chronic pain in opioid-tolerant patients. This medicine will be available in 100 milligrams per 5 mL or 20 milligrams per 1 mL. […]

Breaking Down Walls For Biofuels

Researchers at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and ethanol producers are racing to come up with ways to make ethanol from cellulosic biomass that are cheaper and easier to produce than current methods. But they are hitting a wall. Cell walls in plants are making the production of cellulosic ethanol a challenge. So researchers are creating their own computer program to help model and break down the tiny fibers of cellulose — or fibrils — found in plant cells.

Cellulosic biomass contains sugars that are much harder to get at because the plants use these tougher plant cells as structure to hold up the plant. NREL’s Antti-Pekka Hynninen is part of a team creating their own computer program to help model and break down the cellulose fibrils found in plant cells.

“To reduce the cost of cellulosic ethanol we must understand how to break down the plant cells into the sugars needed to make ethanol,” NREL Researcher Antti-Pekka Hynninen said. “The cellulose fibrils of these plants are very long so we use computer modeling to see how we can break them apart.”

NREL researchers typically study cellulose fibrils that are 500 to 1,000 glucose units long and figure out the easiest way to bust them apart. However, these fibrils are too large to study using current computer models.

“Right now the technique is to consider each atom in each fiber, which is not practical using existing computers,” Principle Scientist Mark Nimlos said. “We need to group atoms into beads, or larger grains.”

Hynninen hopes to overcome the problem presented by such large molecules by building a simpler “coarse-grained” computer model of cellulose fibrils. In the new approach, multiple atoms (typically 3 to 7) are grouped into a single spherical bead. The coarse-grained model is then built up from these beads. The new model is expected to allow computer simulations that are 10 to 100 times faster.

Next steps for the program officially titled “Meso-Scale Computational Modeling of Polysaccharides in Plant Cell Walls” are to validate the model and publish the work done at NREL so this type of modeling can be used in other areas.
“I believe this same method could be used for other systems and they don’t have to be cellulosic or proteins — there’s a potential for many uses.” Hynninen said. — Heather Lammers

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment