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Engineered yeast may expand possible biofuel sources, researchers say

Engineered yeast may expand possible biofuel sources, researchers say

Science
June 25 (UPI) -- Researchers at MIT said Friday that they have developed a way to expand potential sources of biofuels to include straw and woody plants that, historically, proved challenging to effectively process. Their approach involves a technique designed to improve yeast cells' tolerance to a wide range of alcohols, they said. In large quantities, alcohols are toxic to yeast, the microbes most commonly used to produce biofuels such as ethanol. However, by using specific compounds that strengthen the membrane of the yeast, the microbes were able to survive much longer in high concentrations of ethanol, the researchers said. Using this approach, they were able to improve the traditional fuel ethanol yield of a high-performing strain of yeast by about 80%, they said. Their findings we...
Climate researchers: More green space, less biofuel

Climate researchers: More green space, less biofuel

Science
Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The chorus of biofuel critics is getting louder. In an opinion article published this week in the journal PNAS, a pair climate scientists argued continued support for biofuel production will make it more difficult to protect the climate. John M. DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute, and William H. Schlesinger, president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, want to see more conservation of the planet's natural resources. When burned, many low-carbon biofuels have a much smaller impact on the atmosphere than fossil fuels. But the development or conversion of land for the production of biofuel crops can negatively impact the environment. "Current policies advancing bioenergy contribute to the pressure to convert natura...