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New class of enzymes discovered, could increase efficiency of cellulosic ethanol

In a breakthrough that could make the production of cellulosic ethanol less expensive, Cornell University researchers have discovered a class of plant enzymes that potentially could allow plant materials used to make ethanol to be broken down more efficiently than is possible using current technologies.
Biofuels such as corn ethanol or rapeseed biodiesel are unsustainable, because they have a very weak energy balance and do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions much. For this reason, scientists are looking into developing ’second-generation’ biofuels, made from cellulose, which is a far more abundant feedstock than the oil and sugar currently obtained from grains, canes and oil seeds. Cellulose is the most abundant biological material on earth.

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