The continuous growth in global population and the ongoing development of countries such as China and India have contributed to a rapid increase in worldwide energy demand. Fossil fuels such as oil and gas are finite resources, and their current rate of consumption cannot be sustained. This, coupled with fossil fuels' role as pollutants and their contribution to global warming, has led to increased interest in alternative sources of energy production. Bioethanol, presently produced from energy crops, is one such promising alternative future energy source and much research is underway in optimizing its production. The economic and temporal constraints that crop feedstocks pose are the main downfalls in terms of the commercial viability of bioethanol production. As an alternative to crop feedstocks, significant research efforts have been put into utilizing algal biomass as a feedstock for bioethanol production. Whilst the overall process can vary, the conversion of biomass to bioethanol usually contains the following steps: (i) pretreatment of feedstock; (ii) hydrolysis; and (iii) fermentation of bioethanol. This paper reviews different technologies utilized in the pretreatment and fermentation steps, and critically assesses their applicability to bioethanol production from algal biomass. Two different established fermentation routes, single-stage fermentation and two-stage gasification/fermentation processes, are discussed. The viability of algal biomass as an alternative feedstock has been assessed adequately, and further research optimisation must be guided toward the development of cost-effective scalable methods to produce high bioethanol yield under optimum economy.
On December 21, 2010, 6000 genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes were released in an uninhabited forest in Malaysia. The purpose of the deliberate release was a limited “marked release and recapture” (MRR) experiment, a standard ecological method in entomology, to evaluate under field conditions, the flight distance and longevity of the sterile male Aedes aegypti strain OX513A(My1), a GM strain. As with any other GM technologies, the release was received with mixed responses. As the scientific community debate over the public engagement strategies for similar GM releases, dengue incidence continues to rise with a heavy toll on morbidity, mortality and healthcare budgets. Meanwhile the wild female Aedes aegypti continues to breed offspring, surviving and evading conventional interventions for vector control.
Dimethyl adipate (DMA) was synthesized by immobilized Candida antarctica lipase B-catalyzed esterification of adipic acid and methanol. To optimize the reaction conditions of ester production, response surface methodology was applied, and the effects of four factors namely, time, temperature, enzyme concentration, and molar ratio of substrates on product synthesis were determined. A statistical model predicted that the maximum conversion yield would be 97.6%, at the optimal conditions of 58.5 degrees C, 54.0 mg enzyme, 358.0 min, and 12:1 molar ratio of methanol to adipic acid. The R(2) (0.9769) shows a high correlation between predicted and experimental values. The kinetics of the reaction was also investigated in this study. The reaction was found to obey the ping-pong bi-bi mechanism with methanol inhibition. The kinetic parameters were determined and used to simulate the experimental results. A good quality of fit was observed between the simulated and experimental initial rates.
Chemical recycling of bio-based polymers polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) by thermal degradation was investigated from the viewpoint of biorefinery. The thermal degradation resulted in successful transformation of PHAs into vinyl monomers using alkali earth compound (AEC) catalysts. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate)s (PHBVs) were smoothly and selectively depolymerized into crotonic (CA) and 2-pentenoic (2-PA) acids at lower degradation temperatures in the presence of CaO and Mg(OH)(2) as catalysts. Obtained CA from 3-hydroxybutyrate sequences in PHBV was copolymerized with acrylic acid to produce useful water-soluble copolymers, poly(crotonic acid-co-acrylic acid) that have high glass-transition temperatures. The copolymerization of CA derived from PHA pyrolysis is an example of cascade utilization of PHAs, which meets the idea of sustainable development.
The technological utility of biomolecules (e.g. proteins, enzymes and DNA) can be significantly enhanced by combining them with ionic liquids (ILs) - potentially attractive "green" and "designer" solvents - rather than using in conventional organic solvents or water. In recent years, ILs have been used as solvents, cosolvents, and reagents for biocatalysis, biotransformation, protein preservation and stabilization, DNA solubilization and stabilization, and other biomolecule-based applications. Using ILs can dramatically enhance the structural and chemical stability of proteins, DNA, and enzymes. This article reviews the recent technological developments of ILs in protein-, enzyme-, and DNA-based applications. We discuss the different routes to increase biomolecule stability and activity in ILs, and the design of biomolecule-friendly ILs that can dissolve biomolecules with minimum alteration to their structure. This information will be helpful to design IL-based processes in biotechnology and the biological sciences that can serve as novel and selective processes for enzymatic reactions, protein and DNA stability, and other biomolecule-based applications.
Microbial lipases are popular biocatalysts due to their ability to catalyse diverse reactions such as hydrolysis, esterification, and acidolysis. Lipases function efficiently on various substrates in aqueous and non-aqueous media. Lipases are chemo-, regio-, and enantio-specific, and are useful in various industries, including those manufacturing food, detergents, and pharmaceuticals. A large number of lipases from fungal and bacterial sources have been isolated and purified to homogeneity. This success is attributed to the development of both conventional and novel purification techniques. This review highlights the use of these techniques in lipase purification, including conventional techniques such as: (i) ammonium sulphate fractionation; (ii) ion-exchange; (iii) gel filtration and affinity chromatography; as well as novel techniques such as (iv) reverse micellar system; (v) membrane processes; (vi) immunopurification; (vi) aqueous two-phase system; and (vii) aqueous two-phase floatation. A summary of the purification schemes for various bacterial and fungal lipases are also provided.
Renewable energy from lignocellulosic biomass has been deemed an alternative to depleting fossil fuels. In order to improve this technology, we aim to develop robust mathematical models for the enzymatic lignocellulose degradation process. By analyzing 96 groups of previously published and newly obtained lignocellulose saccharification results and fitting them to Weibull distribution, we discovered Weibull statistics can accurately predict lignocellulose saccharification data, regardless of the type of substrates, enzymes and saccharification conditions. A mathematical model for enzymatic lignocellulose degradation was subsequently constructed based on Weibull statistics. Further analysis of the mathematical structure of the model and experimental saccharification data showed the significance of the two parameters in this model. In particular, the λ value, defined the characteristic time, represents the overall performance of the saccharification system. This suggestion was further supported by statistical analysis of experimental saccharification data and analysis of the glucose production levels when λ and n values change. In conclusion, the constructed Weibull statistics-based model can accurately predict lignocellulose hydrolysis behavior and we can use the λ parameter to assess the overall performance of enzymatic lignocellulose degradation. Advantages and potential applications of the model and the λ value in saccharification performance assessment were discussed.
Fish meal is currently the major protein source for commercial aquaculture feed. Due to its unstable supply and increasing price, fish meal is becoming more expensive and its availability is expected to face significant challenges in the near future. Therefore, feasible alternatives to fish meal are urgently required. Microalgae have been recognized as the most promising candidates to replace fish meal because the protein composition of microalgae is similar to fish meal and the supply of microalgae-based proteins is sustainable. In this study, an indigenous microalga (Chlorella vulgaris FSP-E) with high protein content was selected, and its feasibility as an aquaculture protein source was explored. An innovative photobioreactor (PBR) utilizing cold cathode fluorescent lamps as an internal light source was designed to cultivate the FSP-E strain for protein production. This PBR could achieve a maximum biomass and protein productivity of 699 and 365 mg/L/day, respectively, under an optimum urea and iron concentration of 12.4 mM and 90 μM, respectively. In addition, amino acid analysis of the microalgal protein showed that up to 70% of the proteins in this microalgal strain consist of indispensable amino acids. Thus, C. vulgaris FSP-E appears to be a viable alternative protein source for the aquaculture industry.
Bisulfite pretreatment is a proven effective method for improving the enzymatic hydrolysis of empty fruit bunch (EFB) from oil palm for bioethanol production. In this study, we set out to determine the changes that occur in the structure and properties of EFB materials and fractions of hemicellulose and lignin during the bisulfite pretreatment process. The results showed that the crystallinity of cellulose in EFB increased after bisulfite pretreatment, whereas the EFB surface was damaged to various degrees. The orderly structure of EFB, which was maintained by hydrogen bonds, was destroyed by bisulfite pretreatment. Bisulfite pretreatment also hydrolyzed the glycosidic bonds of the xylan backbone of hemicellulose, thereby decreasing the molecular weight and shortening the xylan chains. The lignin fractions obtained from EFB and pretreated EFB were typically G-S lignin, and with low content of H units. Meanwhile, de-etherification occurred at the β-O-4 linkage, which was accompanied by polymerization and demethoxylation as a result of bisulfite pretreatment. The adsorption ability of cellulase differed for the various lignin fractions, and the water-soluble lignin fractions had higher adsorption capacity on cellulase than the milled wood lignin. In general, the changes in the structure and properties of EFB provided insight into the benefits of bisulfite pretreatment.
Lignocellulosic biomass is a potential substrate for ethanol production. However, pretreatment of lignocellulosic materials produces inhibitory compounds such as acetic acid, which negatively affect ethanol production by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Supplementation of the medium with three metal ions (Zn(2+) , Mg(2+) , and Ca(2+) ) increased the tolerance of S. cerevisiae toward acetic acid compared to the absence of the ions. Ethanol production from xylose was most improved (by 34%) when the medium was supplemented with 2 mM Ca(2+) , followed by supplementation with 3.5 mM Mg(2+) (29% improvement), and 180 μM Zn(2+) (26% improvement). Higher ethanol production was linked to high cell viability in the presence of metal ions. Comparative transcriptomics between the supplemented cultures and the control suggested that improved cell viability resulted from the induction of genes controlling the cell wall and membrane. Only one gene, FIT2, was found to be up-regulated in common between the three metal ions. Also up-regulation of HXT1 and TKL1 might enhance xylose consumption in the presence of acetic acid. Thus, the addition of ionic nutrients is a simple and cost-effective method to improve the acetic acid tolerance of S. cerevisiae.
Microalgae are considered promising feedstock for the production of biofuels and other bioactive compounds, yet there are still challenges on commercial applications of microalgae-based products. This review focuses on the economic analysis, environmental impact, and industrial potential of biofuels production from microalgae. The cost of biofuels production remains higher compared to conventional fuel sources. However, integration of biorefinery pathways with biofuels production for the recovery of value-added products (such as antioxidants, natural dyes, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and so forth) could substantially reduce the production costs. It also paves the way for sustainable energy resources by significantly reducing the emissions of CO2 , NOx , SOx , and heavy metals. Large-scale biofuels production has yet to be successfully commercialized with many roadblocks ahead and heavy competition with conventional fuel feedstock as well as technological aspects. One of the prominent challenges is to develop a cost-effective method to achieve high-density microalgal cultivation on an industrial scale. The biofuels industry should be boosted by Government's support in the form of subsidies and incentives, for addressing the pressing climate change issues, achieving sustainability, and energy security.
Three-dimensionally printed constructs are static and do not recapitulate the dynamic nature of tissues. Four-dimensional (4D) bioprinting has emerged to include conformational changes in printed structures in a predetermined fashion using stimuli-responsive biomaterials and/or cells. The ability to make such dynamic constructs would enable an individual to fabricate tissue structures that can undergo morphological changes. Furthermore, other fields (bioactuation, biorobotics, and biosensing) will benefit from developments in 4D bioprinting. Here, the authors discuss stimuli-responsive biomaterials as potential bioinks for 4D bioprinting. Natural cell forces can also be incorporated into 4D bioprinted structures. The authors introduce mathematical modeling to predict the transition and final state of 4D printed constructs. Different potential applications of 4D bioprinting are also described. Finally, the authors highlight future perspectives for this emerging technology in biomedicine.
Oil palm biomass is widely known for its potential as a renewable resource for various value-added products due to its lignocellulosic content and availability. Oil palm biomass biorefinery is an industry that comes with sociopolitical benefits through job opportunities, as well as potential environmental benefits. Many studies have been conducted on the technological advancements of oil-palm biomass-derived renewable materials, which are discussed comprehensively in this review. Recent technological developments have made it possible to bring new and innovative technologies to commercialization, such as compost, biocharcoal, biocomposites, and bioplastics.