This Week in Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology

Can you make fuel out of tobacco? Apparently you can if they’re genetically engineered tobacco plants.

According to Alternative Energy,

“Researchers from the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University have developed a new method to increase the quantity of oil in tobacco leaves. So that oil in tobacco leaves can be utilized as biofuels in future. Their paper was published in Plant Biotechnology Journal which is an online journal.”

Alternative Energy goes on to write,

“According to Dr. Andrianov, “Tobacco is very attractive as a biofuel because the idea is to use plants that aren’t used in food production. We have found ways to genetically engineer the plants so that their leaves express more oil. In some instances, the modified plants produced 20-fold more oil in the leaves.””

That’s another feedstock to add to the list.

Xconomy in Seattle has come up with the top five innovations to watch in the coming decade. They are:

  1. The Return of Nanotechnology
  2. Industrial Applications of Synthetic Biology
  3. P4 Medicine. A term coined by Leroy Hood to embody Personalized, Predictive, Preventive, and Participatory medicine.
  4. Merger of the ‘Cloud’ Computing and Mobile Devices.
  5. In-Vivo Cell Potentiation
  6. .

Read more about these at Xconmony.

And now, the fifty hottest companies in bioenergy announced by Biofuels Digest for 2009-2010. Well it’s a long list so we won’t tell you who all fifty are, but you can find that list on the Biofuels Digest web site. The first five are:

  1. Solazyme
  2. Poet
  3. Amyris
  4. BP Biofuels
  5. Sapphire Energy

Congratulations and best wishes for 2010.

Industrial and Environmental Biotech Weekly Blog Roundup

In industrial biotechnology this week the Wall Street Cheat Sheet says algae is the next great thing.

“Algae could be the most promising candidate yet for the future of the biofuels industry.

Although algae-based fuels won’t be commercially available for several years, algae offers several advantages over other first-generation renewable fuels, such as corn and soybeans. For example, algae grows faster, requires less resources, can be used as jet fuel, can use existing distribution systems, and absorbs carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.”

The post closes with,

“All of this syncs up neatly with a White House concerned with climate change and looking to develop “green energy” technologies with long economic coattails.

While it may be too early to call algae the clear winner in the biofuels race, at least for now, the future of algae-based biofuels looks bright.”

The Biofuels Digest

writes about BIO’s recent Pacific Rim Summit,

“In Hawaii, at the BIO Pacific Rim Summit, Joule Biotechnologies announced that it has achieved direct microbial conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbons via engineered organisms, powered by solar energy.

Joule’s Helioculture process mixes sunlight and CO2 with highly engineered photo synthetic organisms, which are designed to secrete ethanol, diesel or other products.

However, unlike algae and other current biomass-derived fuels, the Helioculture process does not produce biomass, requires no agricultural feedstock and minimizes land and water use. It is also direct-to-product, so there is no lengthy extraction and/or refinement process.”

Sounds interesting, guess we’ll have to stay tuned.

Yesterday the DOE and the USDA announced,

“projects selected for more than $24 million in grants to research and develop technologies to produce biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. Of the $24.4 million announced today, DOE plans to invest up to $4.9 million with USDA contributing up to $19.5 million. Advanced biofuels produced through this funding are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent compared to fossil fuels.”

Nominate a Fellow Bio-Techie for Biotech Humanitarian Award

Know anyone who is this close to the next big breakthrough in biofuels? Ending dependence on oil is one of the great challenges of 21st century, and there are heroes in our midst working towards alternative fuels. If you know someone who has contributed significantly to this goal, nominate them for the Biotech Humanitarian Award!

The award will recognize an innovator who has improved the lives of others by harnessing the power of biotechnology to help fuel the planet. The biofuels community knows better than anyone how long and arduous it can be to work on the next great biotechnology breakthrough. No one does it for the praise or attention, we are just working towards the common goal of improving the environment and generating alternative fuels sources. However, it is important to honor those who are working on behalf of thousands of people and let them know that we appreciate what they are doing and we are grateful.

You can show your appreciation by nominating the efforts of a colleague, advocate or friend for the Biotech Humanitarian Award.

Nominate someone you believe has produced tangible improvements to humanity through their work in the energy and environmental sectors.

This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the work of a colleague and applaud the impact biotechnology continues to have on contemporary energy and environmental issues. You should feel free to nominate anyone including advocates, scientists, researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, financiers, philanthropists, educators and others.

The Biotech Humanitarian Award winner will be announced at the to the 2009 BIO International Convention and receive $10,000. Nominations can be made online at and must be submitted by April 15, 2009.