Belgian scientists have developed genetically modified yeast strains increasing their ability to turn waste into biofuel

Mutated yeast speeds up waste-based biofuel production

Belgian researchers have created a new genetically mutated yeast strain that can turn waste into bio-ethanol with unprecedented efficiency.

The team of researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and the VIB research institute have picked some of the best yeast strains used in the industry and modified their DNA to make them able to ferment a wider variety of sugars while at the same time boosting their robustness.

“Our new yeast strains come at a good moment because the entire industry of second-generation biofuels has now clearly come quite a bit closer to becoming economically viable,” said Johan Thevelein, the leader of the team. “We are working at full capacity to further improve our yeast strains in order to continue to increase the efficiency of fermentation, and in this way we hope to further strengthen our leadership position in this burgeoning industrial sector.”

The biggest limitation of yeast in biofuel production has so far been in the limited ability of every single strain to convert wider variety of sugars into bioethanol. Especially pentose sugars have posed a serious obstacle.

However, the newly mutated strain created by the Belgian team seems to be able to deal with all sorts of sugars contained in biomass and waste

Biofuel production from post-harvest waste like straw, wheat bran and corn husks and stalks is considered as an important step towards decreasing the carbon footprint of the transport sector. 

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