Researchers at Roskilde University (RUC) and scientists at Novozymes have developed an enzyme with the potential to turn organic waste into fuel that can be poured directly into the tank of a normal petrol car.
Johan Pelck Olsen, a PhD student at RUC, is one of the two principal authors of a study that has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. “We have developed a new artificial enzyme that under certain conditions is almost twice as effective as the enzymes found in nature,” he said in a press release from RUC.
The enzyme has now been patented in most of the world.
So-called bioethanol is already used in fuel today to reduce CO2 emissions, but its drawback is that it is made using edible foods such as corn and sugar cane, which in turn pushes up global food prices. The new research could pave the way for a new generation of bioethanol that uses non-edible organic matter, like straw, instead.
Olsen is confident about how the research could impact the bioethanol business. “Even though we have known about the technology for many years, it’s never really left the drawing board,” he said.
“That’s partly because the enzymes have been too expensive and ineffective. If our results hold outside the laboratory, it might help to change that.”