Richard Zare, Department of Chemistry, Stanford University
This exploratory project is aimed at solving the problems associated with a critical, rate-limiting step in the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to the sugar feedstock for biofuels synthesis. Microfibrillar cellulose, the major source of these sugars, requires a suite of specialized enzymes acting in a concerted fashion, to break it down to its individual sugars. This research sets out to immobilize these enzymes in such a way that their active sites are brought into close proximity to the substrate and to one another leading to enhancement of enzymatic activity. Using a sol-gel polymer to immobilize the enzymes by entrapment and covalent attachment, the researchers will test enzyme stability for optimal conditions for cellulase bioconversion and kinetics compared to free cellulase.
- 2010 Progress Report (PDF)