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Novel catalysts for use in direct production of sugar acids and sugar oligomers from cellulosic biomass

Technology:

Background: A method of production of sugar oligosaccharides and sugar oligosaccharide adonic acids directly from inexpensive cellulosic biomass. Researchers have engineered a fungus that can directly produce sugar oligosaccharides and/or sugar oligosaccharide adonic acids from cellulose without any addition of exogenous cellulase. Sugar oligosccahride adonic acids are valuable chemicals numerous applications in the pharmaceutical cosmetic food and chemical industries. Sugar oligosaccharides can be used as feedstock for further fuels and chemicals production. Technology Description: Researchers at the University of California have created a metabolically engineered mutant form of the Neurospora crassa fungus that can produce sugar oligosaccharides (such as cellobiose) or sugar oligosaccharide adonic acids ( such as cellobionate) directly from biomass (cellulose) without the addition of cellulase or any other enzymes using one single step and thereby eliminating costly steps in biofuel production from biomass.Cellulosic biomass is an abundant and sustainable source for organic fuels and chemicals. However widespread use of cellulosic biomass has been restrained by a lack of efficient low-cost biomass processing technology. The traditional method for converting cellulosic biomass to biofuels includes pretreatment cellulase production and enzymatic hydrolysis steps to produce the sugars required for fermentation into biofuels and chemicals. The new approach developed in UCD replaces these costly steps with one single fermentation step using a genetically engineered fungus and hence has the potential to drastically lower the processing cost. The approach is able to generate sugar oligosaccharides which can be the sugars for subsequent fuel and chemical production. It can alternatively generate oligosaccharide adonic acids as well high-value chemicals with broad application in the food cosmetics pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Applications: 1) The fungus can be used to produce sugar oligosaccharides and produce sugar oligosaccharide adonic acids from cheap and abundant biomass. 2) The sugar oligosaccharides (cellobiose) can in turn be used for production of biofuels and other chemicals. 3) Sugar oligosaccharide adonic acids are highvalue chemicals which have broad applications in the food cosmetics pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

Benefits:

1) This method of cellobiose production is a cheap alternative to the traditional method of sugar production for use in production of biofuels and chemicals and direct production of highvalue sugar oligosaccharides adonic acids. 2) This catalyst eliminates the need of costly cellulase enzyme production and treatment by directly degrading lignin and hydrolyzing cellulose and hemicellulose from the cellulosic biomass to isolate the needed sugars. 3) Use of this fungus will ultimately lead to cheaper and more efficient production of biofuels and other organic chemicals.

Date of release: