In Arkansas, University of Arkansas biologist Ruben Michael Ceballos is developing methods that could make the production of biofuel more efficient and environmentally sound using a protein derived from microorganisms that live in acidic geothermal pools and springs to enhance the process of turning organic material into fuel.
Ceballos, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, received a four-year, $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the research, which seeks to create a way to protect and enhance enzymes during the conversion process.
Ceballos’ goal is to create a system that can enhance enzymatic efficiency in the high temperature and extreme pH conditions involved in the manufacturing of biofuels. To do that, he is working with a protein derived from archaea, which are single-cell organisms that can exist in extreme environments including geothermal springs and pools.
“After working on the proof-of-concept for this biotechnology for the past several years, it is great to see that other scientists at the national level understand the value of this work,” said Ceballos. “We look forward to investigating and developing the system further so that it may be commercialized and offer significant enhancements to the biofuels sector, or any other industry where enzyme-mediated reactions under harsh conditions are essential for production processes.”
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