Scientists can barley believe a-maize-ing biofuel find

Scientists have developed a way to increase the efficiency of rice straw biofuel production. Significantly, the researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Kyoto University claim the strategy […]

Register now!

By Jonny Bairstow

Scientists have developed a way to increase the efficiency of rice straw biofuel production.

Significantly, the researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Kyoto University claim the strategy can also be used to boost biofuel production efficiency from other crops such as maize, wheat and barley.

During bioethanol production, a substance in plant cell walls called lignin makes it more complicated and expensive to extract the fermentable sugar glucose from cellulose.

The collaborative project discovered when a key enzyme is removed, the lignin content in rice straw falls by around a third, increasing the average yield of glucose by 37%.

HKU plant biochemist Clive Lo Sze-Chung said: “This strategy can be applied to other cereals like maize, wheat and barley as well as grass species cultivated around the world exclusively for ethanol production, so that they can be utilised more efficiently as raw materials for biofuel.”

NASA has suggested biofuels can reduce jet engine pollution by as much as 70%.