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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bioenergy Research » Research » Research Project #438816

Research Project: New Bioproducts for Advanced Biorefineries

Location: Bioenergy Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-189-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 14, 2020
End Date: Sep 13, 2025

Objective 1: Generate enzymes required to hydrolyze recalcitrant xylan structures to increase sugar availability for biorefinery processes. Objective 2: Develop an improved biorefinery process for production of itaconic acid from lignocellulose. Objective 3: Develop a biorefinery process for production of butyric acid from lignocellulose. Objective 4: Develop technologies that enable non-Saccharomyces yeast-based processes for bioconversion of lignocellulose to advanced biofuels and value-added bioproducts. Objective 5: Enable production of biocontrol co-products to add value to biorefinery process streams.

The last few decades have seen a dramatic growth in biofuels and bioproducts. Bioethanol accounts for over one-third of United States corn consumption and bio-based products (e.g., apart from ethanol) add $369 billion and 1.5 million jobs to the national economy (USDA, 2015). Yet the transition to lignocellulose feedstocks, with an estimated availability of 1 billion tons per year, has been slow and halting. One reason for their slow adoption has been a lack of bioproducts. The objectives of this plan share the common goal of developing microbial bioproducts for advanced bioenergy plants. Sugar conversion efficiency will be increased by using sophisticated analytical techniques to identify recalcitrant xylan structures and to use this knowledge for enzyme discovery. Structural analysis of carbohydrates is technically challenging and will rely on novel methods developed by ARS researchers. It is proposed to convert the generated sugars using either bacterial, yeast, or fungal cultures to butyrate, itaconate, and lipids. Butyrate is a widely used commodity chemical, itaconate can be used to manufacture bio-plastics, and lipids can be used either as a bioproduct or as a feedstock to manufacture biodiesel or green diesel. Finally, a unique set of Pseudomonas of proven efficacy as biocontrol agents for effectively combating fungal potato dry rot (and other plant diseases) will be evaluated for valorizing agriculture and lignocellulose associated process streams. The biocontrol agent is a substitute for azole-based chemicals and, so, this goal is medically beneficial in combating overuse of anti-fungal azole-based chemicals, which are blamed for raising fungal resistance in clinical settings. Taken together, the success of this project will advance the use of lignocellulose to the benefit of the U.S., especially the rural economy, and advance national environmental goals.