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Title: The Goals and Research of the BioEnergy Sciences Center (BESC): Developing Cost-effective and Sustainable Means of Producing Biofuels by Overcoming Biomass Recalcitrance

Abstract

The mission of BioEnergy Sciences Center is to understand and overcome the recalcitrance of biomass to conversion by modifying plant cell walls with improved biocatalysts. The papers in this volume are from the plant transformation and the biomass characterization areas, and showcase the multidisciplinary and multi-institutional nature of the center. The challenge of converting cellulosic biomass to accessible sugars is the dominant obstacle to cost-effective production of biofuels in sustained quantities capable of impacting U.S. consumption of fossil transportation fuels. This was affirmed in a Biomass to Biofuels Workshop report, 'Breaking the Barriers to Cellulosic Ethanol' (DOE/SC-0095, 2006). The potential beneficial economic impact of addressing the difficulty of accessing biomass sugars was explained by Lynd et al. [1]. The BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) research project addresses this challenge with an unprecedented interdisciplinary effort focused on overcoming the recalcitrance of biomass. The 5-year mission of BESC is to make revolutionary advances in understanding and overcoming the recalcitrance of biomass to conversion into sugars, making it feasible to displace imported petroleum with ethanol and other fuels. BESC will combine plant cell walls engineered to reduce recalcitrance with new biocatalysts to improve deconstruction. These breakthroughs will be realized with a systems biology approachmore » and new high-throughput analytical and computational technologies to achieve: (1) targeted modification of plant cell walls to reduce their recalcitrance (using Populus and switchgrass as high-impact bioenergy feedstocks), thereby, decreasing or eliminating the need for costly chemical pretreatment; and (2) consolidated bioprocessing, which involves the use of a single microorganism or microbial consortium to overcome biomass recalcitrance through single-step conversion of biomass to biofuels. We will greatly enhance our understanding of cell wall structure during synthesis and conversion. The data published will be made available through a Web portal to the bioenergy research community. As can be seen in this volume of early papers, this is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project which began in the fall of 2007. In forming the BESC, leading researchers from institutions across the United States were recruited to establish a distributed team that brings an unprecedented breadth and depth of expertise to the challenge of biomass recalcitrance. More details on BESC can be found at www.bioenergycenter.org. The papers in this volume primarily are from the plant transformation and the biomass characterization areas within the center. Since BESC is pursuing targeted modification of plant cell walls to reduce or eliminate pretreatment and to decrease recalcitrance, these papers show the variety of techniques that can be applied at both the plant (e.g., genetic transformation) and analytical levels. The collective goal is the understanding of cell wall biosynthesis at the molecular level and how cell wall structure and architecture influence recalcitrance. For this purpose, there is insufficient knowledge about how cellulose and hemicelluloses are synthesized, distributed within cell walls, and attached to each other, to lignin, or to cell wall proteins. We are utilizing molecular, genetic, genomic, biochemical, chemical, and bioinformatics tools to understand cell wall biosynthesis in Populus and switchgrass. We chose switchgrass and Populus as realistic potential biofeedstocks and as representatives of herbaceous and woody perennial plants. While an ultimate goal is the development of optimal biofuel feedstocks for conversion, productivity, and sustainability, our immediate goal is to prove that controlled modification of plant cell walls will reduce their recalcitrance, decreasing or even eliminating the need for costly chemical pretreatment.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1045303
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
BioEnergy Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 2; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1939-1234
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
02 PETROLEUM; 09 BIOMASS FUELS; BIOFUELS; BIOLOGY; BIOMASS; BIOSYNTHESIS; CELL WALL; CELLULOSE; CELLULOSIC ETHANOL; ECONOMIC IMPACT; ETHANOL; GENETICS; LIGNIN; MICROORGANISMS; MODIFICATIONS; PETROLEUM; PLANT CELLS; PROTEINS; SACCHARIDES; SWITCHGRASS; SYNTHESIS; TRANSFORMATIONS

Citation Formats

Fowler, Suzy. The Goals and Research of the BioEnergy Sciences Center (BESC): Developing Cost-effective and Sustainable Means of Producing Biofuels by Overcoming Biomass Recalcitrance. United States: N. p., 2009. Web.
Fowler, Suzy. The Goals and Research of the BioEnergy Sciences Center (BESC): Developing Cost-effective and Sustainable Means of Producing Biofuels by Overcoming Biomass Recalcitrance. United States.
Fowler, Suzy. Thu . "The Goals and Research of the BioEnergy Sciences Center (BESC): Developing Cost-effective and Sustainable Means of Producing Biofuels by Overcoming Biomass Recalcitrance". United States.
@article{osti_1045303,
title = {The Goals and Research of the BioEnergy Sciences Center (BESC): Developing Cost-effective and Sustainable Means of Producing Biofuels by Overcoming Biomass Recalcitrance},
author = {Fowler, Suzy},
abstractNote = {The mission of BioEnergy Sciences Center is to understand and overcome the recalcitrance of biomass to conversion by modifying plant cell walls with improved biocatalysts. The papers in this volume are from the plant transformation and the biomass characterization areas, and showcase the multidisciplinary and multi-institutional nature of the center. The challenge of converting cellulosic biomass to accessible sugars is the dominant obstacle to cost-effective production of biofuels in sustained quantities capable of impacting U.S. consumption of fossil transportation fuels. This was affirmed in a Biomass to Biofuels Workshop report, 'Breaking the Barriers to Cellulosic Ethanol' (DOE/SC-0095, 2006). The potential beneficial economic impact of addressing the difficulty of accessing biomass sugars was explained by Lynd et al. [1]. The BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) research project addresses this challenge with an unprecedented interdisciplinary effort focused on overcoming the recalcitrance of biomass. The 5-year mission of BESC is to make revolutionary advances in understanding and overcoming the recalcitrance of biomass to conversion into sugars, making it feasible to displace imported petroleum with ethanol and other fuels. BESC will combine plant cell walls engineered to reduce recalcitrance with new biocatalysts to improve deconstruction. These breakthroughs will be realized with a systems biology approach and new high-throughput analytical and computational technologies to achieve: (1) targeted modification of plant cell walls to reduce their recalcitrance (using Populus and switchgrass as high-impact bioenergy feedstocks), thereby, decreasing or eliminating the need for costly chemical pretreatment; and (2) consolidated bioprocessing, which involves the use of a single microorganism or microbial consortium to overcome biomass recalcitrance through single-step conversion of biomass to biofuels. We will greatly enhance our understanding of cell wall structure during synthesis and conversion. The data published will be made available through a Web portal to the bioenergy research community. As can be seen in this volume of early papers, this is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project which began in the fall of 2007. In forming the BESC, leading researchers from institutions across the United States were recruited to establish a distributed team that brings an unprecedented breadth and depth of expertise to the challenge of biomass recalcitrance. More details on BESC can be found at www.bioenergycenter.org. The papers in this volume primarily are from the plant transformation and the biomass characterization areas within the center. Since BESC is pursuing targeted modification of plant cell walls to reduce or eliminate pretreatment and to decrease recalcitrance, these papers show the variety of techniques that can be applied at both the plant (e.g., genetic transformation) and analytical levels. The collective goal is the understanding of cell wall biosynthesis at the molecular level and how cell wall structure and architecture influence recalcitrance. For this purpose, there is insufficient knowledge about how cellulose and hemicelluloses are synthesized, distributed within cell walls, and attached to each other, to lignin, or to cell wall proteins. We are utilizing molecular, genetic, genomic, biochemical, chemical, and bioinformatics tools to understand cell wall biosynthesis in Populus and switchgrass. We chose switchgrass and Populus as realistic potential biofeedstocks and as representatives of herbaceous and woody perennial plants. While an ultimate goal is the development of optimal biofuel feedstocks for conversion, productivity, and sustainability, our immediate goal is to prove that controlled modification of plant cell walls will reduce their recalcitrance, decreasing or even eliminating the need for costly chemical pretreatment.},
doi = {},
journal = {BioEnergy Research},
issn = {1939-1234},
number = 4,
volume = 2,
place = {United States},
year = {2009},
month = {1}
}