Plant Expression of Cellulase for Biomass Ethanol Production
Department of Agriculture
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Small Business Information
Edenspace Systems Corporation
3810 Concorde Parkway, Suite 100, Chantilly, VA, 20151
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Abstract"Edenspace Systems Corporation seeks to achieve a substantial decrease in the production costs of cellulosic ethanol biofuel by engineering a promising biofuel crop, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), with up to three different genes that produce cellulases. When activated by heat, these enzymes break down biomass cellulose into simple sugars that can serve as biofuel feedstocks. Microbially-produced cellulases currently used to produce ethanol from corn and other biomass cost more than $0.45 per gallon of ethanol produced. With successful completion of this project to produce the cellulases in switchgrass biomass, this cost can be drastically reduced to the current goal of $0.10 per gallon or perhaps eliminated, with further cost savings from simplified ethanol production operations. Switchgrass, a versatile, perennial, high-biomass grass, provides significant environmental benefits with respect to maintaining soil quality and sequestering carbon while providing feedstocks for biomass based fuels. In Phase I, an existing accession of switchgrass transformed with the Acidothermus cellulolyticus E1 endoglucanase gene will be tested for biomass production and composition, cellulase activity, and enzymatic stability with respect to ethanol production from plant biomass. Switchgrass will be engineered with additional cellulase genes for testing in Phase II. Successful completion of this project will provide substantial cost benefits for the production of ethanol and other biomass feedstocks. In addition, growing enhanced switchgrass for biofuels could provide new income potential for farmers, particularly those participating in the Conservation Reserve Program."
* information listed above is at the time of submission.