We seek to use thermophilic bacteria to process biomass without added enzymes and with little or no pretreatment.

Distinctive Technological Approach

Many of the most important biorefining challenges and opportunities involve effective conversion of key plant components including hemicellulose (available from sources such as corn fiber, beet pulp, soy hulls, spent sulfite liquor), and cellulose (available from sources such as corn stover, bagasse, paper sludge, and dedicated energy crops such as miscanthus, energy cane, and switchgrass).  Enabled by recent advances in genetic engineering, Enchi Corp. starts with thermophilic microorganisms representative of nature’s best hemicellulose and cellulose fermenters, and develops strains that produce desired products well.  This may be contrasted to the dominant approach in the field to date, which is to start with yeast and other microbes that are good at producing products and engineer them to utilize cellulose and hemicellulose.  A growing body of research suggests that the Enchi approach has some substantial inherent advantages and is likely to be the most cost effective for some important applications.  In particular, by taking advantage of the superior feedstock-utilizing capability of thermophiles, it is possible to envision biomass processing with no added enzymes and with little or no pretreatment, thus avoiding the two principle impediments to cost-effective processing today.

Research Leadership

Solving Recalcitrance

Solving Recalcitrance.  Invited Presentation by the DOE Office of Science, Lee Lynd

Biological solubilization of lignocellulose

Biological solubilization of lignocellulose: Comparative evaluation of feedstock-biocatalyst combinations and enhancement via cotreatment. Submitted manuscript.

DOE-Funded Project on Development of Thermophilic Bacteria for Industrial Processing

Condensed report from a DOE-funded project on development of T. saccaharolyticum for the conversion of lignocellulose to ethanol.

The Need for Biofuels in a Low-Carbon Future

The need for biofuels as part of a low carbon energy future: Lew Fulton, Lee R. Lynd, Alexander Körner, Nathanael Greene, Luke R. Tonachel