Mascoma Corp is one of the two cellulosic ethanol companies that General Motors invested in earlier this year. Dr. Lee Lynd is one of Mascoma's co-founders and he and his collaborators at Dartmouth College have published a paper that gives some more insight into Mascoma's process. They have created a new genetically-engineered bacteria aimed at producing ethanol from biomass. The key to this new microbe is its ability to function at higher temperatures than the naturally-occurring types that hav
The real potential for ethanol lies not in the corn fields of the Nebraska and Iowa but in cellulose. The amount of sugar that can be converted to alcohol that is locked up in cellulosic biomass far exceeds what is available from corn kernels. The problem is, well, that it's locked in there. The chemical bonds in cellulosic materials are much harder to break by normal methods than the bonds in the corn itself.