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    A Watery Roadblock in the Pathway to Biofuels

    A Watery Roadblock in the Pathway to Biofuels

    Removing oxygen atoms is vital to turning biomass into biofuels. Scientists discovered how water interferes with two oxygen-removal paths by creating a highly stable intermediate that costs energy to move along the reaction path

    Engineering  E. Coli for Biofuel, Bioproduct Production

    Engineering E. Coli for Biofuel, Bioproduct Production

    Researchers developed an alternative fatty acid synthase (FAS) system in which enzymes from other organisms work with the native FAS in <i>E. coli</i> to improve the microbe's capacity for chemical production.

    Loosen Up Cell Walls and Get the Sugars Out

    Loosen Up Cell Walls and Get the Sugars Out

    Plant cell walls resist deconstruction. Pretreatment can loosen the structural integrity of cell walls, reducing their recalcitrance. This study offers insights into how pretreatment induces such cell wall modifications in different types of biomass.

    Closing the Loop: Ionic Liquids From Biomass Waste Could Pretreat Plants Destined for Biofuels

    Closing the Loop: Ionic Liquids From Biomass Waste Could Pretreat Plants Destined for Biofuels

    Ionic liquids (ILs) prepare plant matter to be broken into its component sugars, which can be used in creating biofuels. However, the availability and high cost of petroleum-derived ILs pose challenges. Synthesizing new ILs directly from biomass "wastes" could help.

    Elevated Carbon Dioxide Suppresses Dominant Plant Species in a Mixed-Grass Prairie

    Elevated Carbon Dioxide Suppresses Dominant Plant Species in a Mixed-Grass Prairie

    Led by researchers from Wyoming, a team found that elevated carbon dioxide levels suppress the dominant plant species in a northern U.S. Great Plains mixed-grass prairie, creating a less diverse community.

    Characterization of Poplar Budbreak Gene Enhances Understanding of Spring Regrowth

    Characterization of Poplar Budbreak Gene Enhances Understanding of Spring Regrowth

    The gene identified and characterized in this study will enhance the understanding of how woody perennial plants begin their growth cycle, enabling development of new approaches to population management.

    New Methods for Investigating Wood Formation

    New Methods for Investigating Wood Formation

    Poplar trees and other woody plants are desirable starting points for producing transportation fuels. The challenge is that the wood-forming materials resist chemical breakdown. Scientists developed two new methods to understand the recalcitrance of woody material.

    A One-Pot Recipe for Making Jet Fuel

    A One-Pot Recipe for Making Jet Fuel

    Isolating an <i>E. coli</i> mutant that tolerates a liquid salt used to break apart plant biomass into sugary polymers could streamline the biofuels production process.

    Water Gunks Up Biofuels Production From Bio-Oils

    Water Gunks Up Biofuels Production From Bio-Oils

    Scientists discovered that removing the oxygen and water from biomass feedstock forms an impurity that decelerates and significantly disrupts the process.

    Stimulate Bacteria to Stop Chromium in Groundwater

    Stimulate Bacteria to Stop Chromium in Groundwater

    Scientists at Miami University and DOE's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory found that adding a specific nutrient stimulates the bacteria to transform nearby iron that, in turn, reduces the chromium to a much less mobile material.

    Heat-Loving Microbe Engineered to Produce Bioalcohols for Fuel

    Heat-Loving Microbe Engineered to Produce Bioalcohols for Fuel

    The U.S. bioethanol industry depends largely on turning a certain sugar into the simple two-carbon alcohol, the biofuel ethanol. Researchers engineered a heat-loving microbe to produce not only ethanol, but also a range of other alcohols.

    How Does Your Garden Grow? Study Identifies Instigators of Plant Growth

    How Does Your Garden Grow? Study Identifies Instigators of Plant Growth

    A major component of wood, grain, and forage, xylan provides a strong, flexible molecular scaffolding; however, if xylan synthesis is disrupted, plants do not grow normally. Researchers identified two enzymes that synthesize xylan.

    Microbial Community Dynamics Dominate Greenhouse Gas Production in Thawing Permafrost

    Microbial Community Dynamics Dominate Greenhouse Gas Production in Thawing Permafrost

    A single microbe dominated thawed permafrost sites, with its relative abundance strongly correlating with the magnitude and specific type of methane produced at any given site.

    Work Together or Go It Alone? Microbes Are Split on the Answer

    Work Together or Go It Alone? Microbes Are Split on the Answer

    Researchers found a remarkable parallel evolution between two microbial species. The results suggest a trade-off between working together to thrive and maintaining the flexibility to survive alone.

    Iron Supplements Help Microbes Working Together to Thrive When Oxygen Is Scarce

    Iron Supplements Help Microbes Working Together to Thrive When Oxygen Is Scarce

    New evidence shows that higher levels of iron oxides in ocean and coastal sediments speed the conversion of the more potent greenhouse gas methane into carbon dioxide even in the absence of oxygen.

    Understanding Ice Loss in Earth's Coldest Regions

    Understanding Ice Loss in Earth's Coldest Regions

    Scientists found that melt on the surface of glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valley is rare, but internal melting is extensive.

    New Understanding of One of Nature's Best Biocatalysts for Biofuels Production

    New Understanding of One of Nature's Best Biocatalysts for Biofuels Production

    C. thermocellum uses a previously unknown mechanism to degrade cellulose, in addition to other known degradation mechanisms.

    Keeping Cool with a Black Semiconductor

    Keeping Cool with a Black Semiconductor

    For the first time, scientists saw how black phosphorus nanoribbons conduct heat two times more in the zigzag direction than in another direction. Layered, crystalline black phosphorus could lead to microchips that let heat flow away and keeps electrons moving.

    Working Better Together: Two Materials Defining the Future of High-Speed Electronics

    Working Better Together: Two Materials Defining the Future of High-Speed Electronics

    Scientists achieved seamless heterojunctions of graphene-boron nitride nanotubes without using conventional semiconductors.

    The Gold Standard of Cracking Tests

    The Gold Standard of Cracking Tests

    Scientists used high-speed photography and digital image analysis to observe both the events that cause cracks and the speed with which the cracks travel.

    Modular Construction on a Molecular Scale

    Modular Construction on a Molecular Scale

    This is the first instance where synthesis of a crystalline framework in which proteins as well as metal ions and organic molecules are vital building components. This fabrication route has potential applications such as hydrogen fuel storage and carbon capture.

    Combining Electrons and Lasers to Create Designer Beams for Materials Research

    Combining Electrons and Lasers to Create Designer Beams for Materials Research

    Scientists developed a new probe to measure dynamic behavior of materials on ultrafast timescales.

    Nano-Stiltskin: Turning Gold Into ... See-Through Rubber

    Nano-Stiltskin: Turning Gold Into ... See-Through Rubber

    Flexible solar panels would benefit from stretchable, damage-resistant, transparent metal electrodes. Researchers found that topology and the adhesion between a metal nanomesh and the underlying substrate played key roles in creating such materials.

    Towards Eco-friendly Industrial-Scale Hydrogen Production

    Towards Eco-friendly Industrial-Scale Hydrogen Production

    Scientists showed that adding lithium to aluminum nanoparticles results in orders-of-magnitude faster water-splitting reactions and higher hydrogen production rates compared to pure aluminum nanoparticles.

    Taking on the Heat in Solar Cells: New Calculations Show Atomic Vibrations Hurt Efficiency

    Taking on the Heat in Solar Cells: New Calculations Show Atomic Vibrations Hurt Efficiency

    For the first time, accurate first-principles theoretical calculations of the energy lost to heat in silicon, the primary component of solar cells, have been performed.