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Lecture 9

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BIOL 1010
James Cheetham

Lecture 9: Green Biotechnology: Harnessing plant biomass for biofuels and biomaterials Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - Owen Rowland o U of Alberta, then Toronto, then a plant, then UBC, then Carleton o Renewable resources, medicine, food, etc. o Secrete lipids to prevent from losing water/wounds- lab uses genomic/biomedical methods to study wax synthesis o International consortium- Industrium Crops...trying to engineer plants to produce oils st - Major challenges for society in 21 century o Increasing population  Impact in natural resources  Gas prices  Food supply  Ecological footprint (environment)  Water  Pollution (urban)  Disease  Climate change • Rising sea levels  Political instability  Economics (value of banking system) o Food supply o Energy (light houses, industrial factories, transportation) o Environment (climate change, effects on crop production) o Healthcare/Medicines (we’re living longer- have to deal with lots of diseases) - Agricultural biotechnology plays a huge role in these factors o Food supply- breed crops that can give caloric intake we require o Is there potential for using agriculture for energy? o How might this impact environment? o Opportunities in healthcare (as always) - Unique time- human population has massively spiked o Was stable from 12,000-2,000 years ago o 2,000 years ago- globalisation, movement of material across nations, growth of cities, industrial revolution o Last 250 years- world population development o 8-10 billion people by 2050 o Much of this increase in developing countries  Pretty stable in industrialized countries unless there’s immigration  Developing countries rapidly industrializing- need for energy- continual drain on natural resources o Food supply is central- related to everything else in our society- all these other problems related to it o Whatever we do with agriculture, we cannot impact food supply - Richard Florida article- The World is Spiky o A number of articles have been saying world is flattening out  Innovation/technology will be driven more broadly around world  Not true for now o Population is very spiky- NA, Europe, Asia have large populations  SE Asia- making up half of world population (India and China)  Spikes: megacities  Movement from rural to urban living  Other parts (Canada and Australia)-not many o Light emissions- roughly correlated with economic activity  Spikes change  A lot in NA (US and urban Canada)  Absent in developing countries/populated areas o Patents- innovation/inventions  Very few spikes  2/3 come from US and Japan  Patents don’t necessarily correlate with invention- have laws characteristic with each country o Scientific citations- top 1200 scientists in world  Vast majority- particular cities in NA and Europe (Boston, NY, San Francisco, Cambridge, Oxford)  Innovation in these centres  Will likely continue- they’re able to attract people from other countries  This small number of institutions will help problems we’re trying to solve - Up until 19 century, we depended on biological materials o Building materials- cut wood from forests o Fibres- clothing would come from cotton o Rubber- rubber tree in plantations, produces latex, can make tires  Now we use synthetic rubber tires  Plane tires still use natural rubber o Industrial chemicals- sperm whale o Species were endangered/extinct - 20 century- petroleum reserves- everything changed o Made a lot of money o Shift in reliance to non-renewable fossil fuels o Stuff made from carbon (coal/gas) - 2005- over 4,000 million metric tons of crude oil consumed o About 90% towards fuel (transportation/industrial/residential/commercial) o 10% to petrochemical industry- plastic, synthetic plastics/fibres, detergents (clothes, computers), chemical fertilizers o Cheaper and just as good as biological materials (for the most part) - 2008- Most energy comes from oil (39%), coal (25%) and gas (23%) o 10% nuclear o Small amount hydro o Only 4% from modern renewables o By 2050 (due to increasing population and industrialization), will need at least 25 terawatts - Oil extracted, taken to oil refinery o Fractional distillation (lighter gases on top)  Gasoline, then heavier (kerosine, diesel, lubricants)  Cracking- putting in energy- reforming molecules, change chemical structure- platform chemicals- make raw materials to form products we use - Crude oil o Strong coupling between generation of fuel and generation of petrochemical feed stocks o Diverse amount of petrochemicals can be formed from the precursors o Cheap, relatively high quality, good life style o But it’s a finite resource o In terms of revenue, fuels and petrochemicals are about equal (though the later is 10% of oil) o Able to generate a lot of revenue o How much do we have and how long can we sustain crude oil-based society? - Hubbert’s Peak o Looking at oil reserves o 1950s and 1960s- worked for Shell o How much oil extraction/production up to 1950 in blue o Green- proven reserves- knew oil was there but hadn’t extracted yet o Estimated- from future discoveries, about how much oil would be left o At some point, amount of production would peak then decrease o In lower 48 states, would peak at about 1970 o Oil production peaked at 1970- Texas oil fields were drained o Foreign- Europe, Russia, other, Middle East, deep oil drilling  Current estimates for global peak- about now  Lots of concern about this - Peak Oil o National Geographic; A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash o Offshore drilling (Gulf of Mexico)- not easy to extract, can have accident in water, dumping into Gulf of Mexico (environmental consequences, on people) o Alberta Oil Sands (major factor of Canadian economy)- concerns about ponds, ducks o Hilary Clinton deemed these “dirty oil” o There are other methods, but very difficult  Coal reserves- damage to environment, releasing carbon dioxide, climate change  Petroleum- would only last a few generations - Petroleum o US dependent on foreign oil- concerned- have to maintain relations- affects politics o National security strategies have been driven by this - Potential of Underused Renewable Energy Sources o By 2050, about 25 TW will be required o Hydro- potential if you dam up every river, won’t meet demans o Wind- still won’t meet demands o Unlikely to have significant impact o Nuclear could meet demands- haven’t built plants in most places due to safety concerns/people’s reactions o Solar!!  Every year, over 100,000 TW of energy from sun  Harness that  Build lots of solar panels?  To meet 3.3 TW of energy for U.S., would have to have solar panel the size of Utah- not likely  Also, would use lots of resources to build solar panels (petrochemicals)  On large scale, need additional approaches - Photosynthesis o Plants, algae, bacteria fix carbon dioxide- polysaccharides- store/energy o Energy that’s stored could be combusted and used as sources of energy o Releases CO2, but it would be closed loop if plants take the emissions o By tilling the land, you produce CO2- if you convert land, you won’t necessarily get carbon payback o Fertilisers, transportation will release carbon dioxide - Energy from waste biomass- convert THAT to energy o Burn o Thermal conversion o Anaeobic digestion- compost  Burn that for energy - Agricultural residues (after harvesting fruit- excess; animal waste; urban waste) o Heat up (gasification) o Convert to biomasses, liquids, solids, chars o Used for biofuels, chemicals o Or fed to microbes that grow and generate enzymes/chemicals o Char could be planted back to field and used as fertilizer - But we’ll focus on bioconversion (plant material to ethanol) or oil extraction (seed oils to biodiesel) o Not directly being used (not burning) o Turned to chemical forms, then turned to fuels o Bioethanol- substitute for gasoline o Biodiesel- substitute for diesel o Starch- sugars- ethanol (from corn) o This is how bioethanol is being produced in States o Brazil- sugarcane- relatively easy to convert to sugar that microbes can grow on to make bioethanol, like corn o Brazil decided to increase production of ethanol, run off of that- in 70s and 80s (oil crisis with the Middle East), cars running off ethanol, then oil price dropped, now there’s increasing demand for alternative sources so sugarcane plantations have started to increase again o Move cattle farming to another location, rainforests cut down to make way for farms - Potential problems with biofuels o Existing gas stations and technology would have to be converted o *Diversion of food to fuels (60-75% of corn from Prairies) o Developing countries couldn’t afford it o States went big on bioethanol, stopped dumping cheap corn into Mexico, price of food in Mexico went up o Hard to do this on large scale o Would still have emissions, could be cleaner but still emissions (still a problem) o *Loss of habitat- if there’s money to be made, land clearing for biofuels - Crops used for biofuels are bred for food - Irrigation and pesticides- could increase use of water, problems with pesticides - Short term increases in carbon emission- land conversion - Corn takes a lot of fertilizer - About 56% used in animal feed, 13% ethanol, ... o More diverted from animal feed or will have to produce more corn - A lot of targets imposed through legislation- dramatic increase in amount of ethanol production in Brazil and US o In last 5-10 years o They either use or export o EU went after biodiesel instead- due to crops and incentives that are being directed- diesel engines used more in Europe o US and Brazil went after bioethanol - Producing bioethanol from food crops is bad idea - Other sources?- ligno-cellulose waste o Straw to bioethanol o Iogen has bioethanol plant- produced in this way  Have been doing this for at least 10 years  Hunt Club Rd.  Lots of intellectual property o Plants (we already have these) o Fruit used for food o Proportion put back as fertilizer o Excess used for fuels o Pretreat biomass, hydrolize into form that can be fed to microbes (yeast) to ferment, these microbes produce ethanol, distil ethanol, use that o Glucose, pentose sugars o Other types of waste left over - Sugars in plant cell walls- cellulose microfibrils - These are polymerised glucose molecules- cleave them, feed to microbes - Hemicellulose- sugars, but can’t necessarily be used by this yeast to make best use- key is to make maximum use of present sugars- economically sound - Lignin and other smaller compounds - More research has gone into plant cell wall- complex- synthesized and orientated in particular ways o Cellulose o Pectin o Hemicellulose o Lignin- causes big problem in terms of extracting glucose from cellulose- lignin is intermeshed- different type of polymer, difficult to degrade, can inhibit enzymes - Overall idea: get ethanol from cell wall sugars instead of fruit sugars - Leftover materials form harvest- straw, etc. - Pretreat- break into smaller pieces - Get access to cellulose and other polymers - Enzymes hydrolyze sugar molecule- put with yeast- ethanol - Not a trivial process- still today, ethanol not produced on large scale- have to solve these problems- still in research and development stage - Pretreatment o Acid hydrolysis or something else o Needs lots of optimisation o Single largest cost in production of fuels- optimise enzymes o Where to get those enzymes?  Wood would naturally degrade over time, helped by fungi like trichoderma (secretes lots of cellulitic enzymes)- these could be collected  Termites good at digesting- whole series of microbes  Microbes in compost- within microbes are enzymes  Clone protein enzymes, modify for enhanced activity/stability to work under temperatures and pH  Engineered further- would bring down amount of enzyme available- brings down cost- business model - Yields from corn stover o Sounds like a lot, but it’s actually a drop - Depending on what sugars are fed to, won’t necessarily just produce ethanol o There are other molecules that could be produced o Could replace some of the feed stocks we derive from petrochemicals o Car to take the fuel we produce o Integrate into current system- may need to have mixture of gasoline and ethanol - Iogen- have optimized process in demo car, but haven’t figured out way to make it everywhere o They’ve used enzymes for textiles, pulp and paper industry, etc. o Tank either has tricoderma producing enzymes, or straw, or fermentation container o They burn lignin to power industri
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