Breaking Down Biomass: Is Fungi the Answer?

breaking down biomass

A recent study has suggested that the way some fungi breaks down and recycles wood does not involve enzymes – the typical accelerators of most chemical reactions. But what does this mean for biomass?

A New Method of Deconstructing Woody Biomass

Although this unique system of digestion used by some fungi was originally discovered by microbiologist Barry Goodell twenty years ago, the details of the process had remained a mystery – until now.

Goodell’s latest research, published in Biotechnology for Biofuels, shows that Basidiomycota brown rot fungi utilize a chelator-mediated, non-enzymatic biocatalysis method that Goodell calls “very different than that used by any other microorganism studied.”

Chelators – organic compounds that function as a binding agent for metal ions – also, as seen in this case, produce “hydroxyl radicals” that assist in the breakdown of wood and generate chemicals of a simple building-block nature.

According to Goodell’s associates at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the discovery is a “paradigm shift” in the way we understand fungal biocatalysis as it relates to biomass conversion.

In a statement from University Massachusetts Amherst, Goodell said: “Our research on fungal bioconversion systems looks at a novel mechanism that has potential use in bio-refineries to ‘deconstruct’ woody biomass for conversion into platform chemicals for biopolymers or energy products.”

ProcessBarron Looks Forward to Future Developments

When it comes to the industries we serve, we’re always looking at the latest news and the most exciting developments. We believe that constant education and staying up-to-date are both important if we’re going to be a leader in the design, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and repair of bulk materials handling equipment – which is why you can count on us to know the latest about things like biomass.

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