Biofuels Analysis and Research - Biofuels have existed for many years but more recently, with increasing environmental issues and a finite source of fossil fuels, biofuel development has become a major research focus.
Bioethanol and biodiesel are the most common 1st generation biofuels, produced from corn grain starch or simple sugars from sugar cane, and from oil-rich plants, respectively. However, issues still exist over the efficiency and environmental impacts of the production processes used for 1st generation biofuels and therefore the major objective of 2nd generation biofuel technologies is to improve the process efficiency to enable the development of sustainable biofuels from alternative plant biomass.
Plant biomass represents the most abundant renewable carbon source on the planet with lignocellulose being the major component consisting of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose. However, it is the recalcitrant nature of lignocellulose that proves to be the major difficulty of efficient and sustainable biofuel production. The emphasis of improved efficiency in the development of 2nd generation biofuel technologies is on the process of enzymatic breakdown of lignocellulose into fermentable sugars and the subsequent microbial fermentation of these sugars into bioethanol.
Methods to improve the efficiency of the enzymatic breakdown of lignocellulose involve optimising the carbohydrate-active enzyme cocktails and/or various cellulolytic microorganisms used in this process and in doing so utilising the vast knowledge-base of carbohydrate-acting enzymes (CAZymes).
Megazyme develops, manufactures and supplies various products to facilitate biofuels research such as Diagnostic Test Kits (e.g. for the measurement of glucose and xylose etc.), substrates for the determination of enzyme activities (e.g. Enzyme Tablet Tests, Insoluble and Soluble Chromogenic Substrates) and other reagents for more focussed research (e.g. Carbohydrate-acting Enzymes, Oligosaccharides including chromogenic and fluorogenic substrates and Polysaccharides).