“Thirty percent of our plastic is ending up in the environment," says chemical and biological engineering Professor George Huber. "The current plastic infrastructure is not sustainable right now.”
UW-Madison researchers are pushing for a broader understanding of solvents used to convert non-food biomass to biofuels and bioproducts, which would help them to optimize biomass conversion reactions.
A team of chemical and biological engineers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has found a way to produce from biomass a valuable compound used in plastic production that they estimate could lower the cost of ethanol produced from plant material by more than two dollars per gallon.
James Steele’s new company, Lactic Solutions, is advancing a judo-like remedy: using genetic engineering to transform enemy into friend.
The findings are important as yeasts are critical to many industries — brewing, fermenting other foods, making drugs like human insulin, and producing new biofuels.
"We get two for the price of one," says researcher Shannon Stahl, "and we can save half a volt ... In a fuel cell, that is significant saving of energy."