Biofuels and Bioproducts

In the Biofuels and Bioproducts division, researchers are engineering microbes to transform sugars and lignins into energy-rich biofuels. JBEI’s pioneering work in synthetic biology has enabled microbes to produce a variety of molecules from these lignocellulosic biomass that can serve as jet, diesel, and gasoline blendstocks and bioproducts.

Research Challenges

  • Developing and optimizing metabolic pathways for biofuels and bioproducts production
  • Optimizing host organisms to utilize all biomass sugars and aromatics, and efficiently convert them to fuels and bioproducts
  • Understanding fuel/biomass toxicity and engineering microbial cells to tolerate them
  • Developing synthetic biology and systems biology tools for engineering biology
  • Developing computational methods to model microbial metabolism through genome scale models, flux-based mechanistic models and machine learning
  • Using chemical catalysis to enhance biological conversion

Researchers in JBEI’s Biofuels and Bioproducts Division are engineering various strains including Pseudomonas putida, yeast strains, and other bacteria to more quickly and efficiently convert the sugars and aromatics derived from lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels and bioproducts. They are using the latest, most advanced tools of biotechnology including synthetic biology, systems biology, metabolic engineering and metabolic modeling to engineer new biochemical pathways for the production of fuel molecules and chemicals that are currently derived from petroleum. The goal is to produce fuels and other valuable chemical products from simple, inexpensive and renewable starting materials in a sustainable manner.