Development of Biotechnology to Sustain the Production of Environmentally Friendly Transportation Fuel Ethanol from Cellulosic Biomass

EPA Grant Number: R826118
Title: Development of Biotechnology to Sustain the Production of Environmentally Friendly Transportation Fuel Ethanol from Cellulosic Biomass
Investigators: Ho, Nancy W. Y.
Institution: Purdue University
Current Institution: Purdue University
EPA Project Officer: Richards, April
Project Period: November 1, 1997 through October 31, 2000
Project Amount: $359,877
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


After more than ten years of dedicated research effort, we achieved a historical breakthrough in the Fall of 1993 as the first and only research group in the world to overcome the enormous obstacles and succeeded in the development of genetically engineered Saccharomyces yeasts that can effectively ferment both major sugar molecules (glucose and xylose) present in cellulosic biomass to ethanol. As our industry colleagues commented, "these yeasts have brought biomass-to-ethanol technology closer to commercialization than ever before." The objective of the proposed research is to continue to improve our genetically engineered yeasts, making them more efficient in the conversion of biomass sugars to ethanol and making them capable of producing high-valued by-products such as industrial enzymes. Our goal is to make the cost for the production of ethanol from domestically supplied renewable cellulosic feedstocks not only competitive with the cost of gasoline sold at the pump but even much cheaper. This will sustain ethanol, the environmentally friendly transportation fuel, to be used all over the United States now and forever.


Recombinant DNA and gene cloning techniques will be used to further improve our genetically engineered glucose-xylose-fermenting Saccharomyces yeasts to be more effective in converting cellulosic biomass sugars to ethanol as well as capable of producing high-valued industrial enzymes as by-products coupled with ethanol production.

Expected Results:

We are confident in that, as the result of our proposed research, our engineered yeasts will be further improved to become more effective in the conversion of cellulosic biomass sugars to ethanol, and will be equipped with new genes that will render the capability to produce high-valued industrial enzymes in conjunction with the production of ethanol.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 16 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

green chemistry, genetics, organism, microorganism, transportation, alternative fuel, sustainable energy, innovative technology, ethanol fuel., RFA, Industry Sectors, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Genetics, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Transportation and Warehousing - NAIC 48-49, Environmental Engineering, environmentally friendly transportation fuel, Saccharomyces yeasts, biotechnology, ethanol, genetic engineering, gene cloning, alternative fuel, alternative energy source, innovative technology, industrial enzymes, pollution prevention, green chemistry

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final Report