A biofuels research center at the UW-Madison says it has been awarded its first patent.
The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center is operating on a five year, $125 million Department of Energy grant. The money is aimed at improving the conversion of cellulosic plant biomass — that's cornstalks, wood chips and native grasses — to liquid transportation fuels. The center says the first patent based on its technology has just been granted. The center's David Pluymers says the patent protects a new enzyme isolated from a bacteria found in hot springs in Russia.
The enzyme is capable of breaking down plant cell walls; that can help make sugars available for fermentation into ethanol. But the bioenergy center says it will still take a few years for the enzyme to be available for large scale biofuels production. The bioenergy research center says it collaborated with a private sector partner in Middleton, C5-6 Technologies.