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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: New Method to Improve Ethanol Production
See also: US Patent Office Full Record

Patent Number: 6280986
Docket Number: 17496
Serial Number: 9201449
Date Patented: 08/28/2001

Technology Description: Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Illinois developed a way to stabilize bacterial strains used in ethanol production for improved efficiency.  The technology uses two genes that are responsible for producing alcohol: dehydrogenase and pyruvate—which are effective for producing high ethanol concentration.  Current organisms designed to increase ethanol production require adding antibiotics to maintain genetic stability and high ethanol production.  However, this method has drawbacks because of environmental and economical concerns.  ARS’s invention allows bacteria engineered with the two genes to grow, while maintaining high ethanol production without using antibiotics. 


The two enzymes can be obtained from a variety of sources and transformed into different mutant hosts and expressed using a variety of promoters.  The recombinant bacteria are effective for fermenting a variety of sugars from biomass or agricultural wastes to ethanol using conventional methods.   Mutant strains possessing the two genes can be transformed using conventional genetic recombination methods.


Manufacturing companies that produce ethanol and alternative fuels, along with companies involved in manufacturing microorganisms could use this technology. 


This technology has been well tested in laboratory studies.  ARS is seeking a cooperative partner or licensee to scale-up the technology for commercial use.


Reference:  A copy of this patent, USPN 6,280,986 (Docket #0174.96), issued

August 28, 2001, can be obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Website (  Foreign rights are not available. 




Bruce S. Dien

Fermentation Biotechnology Research
Peoria, IL  61604-3999

Phone: (309) 681-6270

    Fax: (309) 681-6427

Robert B. Hespell
(Same as first inventor)

Rodney J. Bothast
(Same as first inventor)

Herbert A. Wyckoff
(Same as first inventor)


Last Modified: 10/1/2015
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