A blog from University of Borås

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Biomass recalcitrance

It is now 3 decades that we have global intensive research on converting lignocelluloses to different value-added products such as ethanol and butanol. There are now hundreds of thousands of publications and patents on these subjects, but still, we don't have any large scale commercial plant. One of the major problems of this subject is the recalcitrance and complexity of the biomass, which make it unaccessible to enzymes and microorganisms. The nature designed this material to stay long, but we want to degrade it quickly. We are tackling with this problem in 15 years now, and still, a long way to go! We have recently had "Biomass Recalcitrance" as a PhD course, and know that the understanding of this complexity need much more research!

(Our current understanding of the cell wall structure. The pictures were adopted from a very good book on this subject)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Environmental Performance Index

There is an index called "Environmental Performance Index", which covers several environmental factors including Access to Sanitation, Access to Water, Indoor Air Pollution, Outdoor Air Pollution, Environmental Burden of Disease, Forest Cover Change, Fisheries, Marine Trophic Index, Trawling Intensity, Agricultural Water Intensity and subsidies, Pesticide Regulation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Per Capita, CO2 Emissions Per Electricity Generation, Industrial Greenhouse Gas Emissions Intensity, Nitrogen Oxides Emissions, Ecosystem Ozone, Sulfur Dioxide Emissions, Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compound Emissions, Water Quality Index, Water Stress Index, Water Scarcity Index, and Biodiversity & Habitat. In this index, Sweden is ranked as number 4 among 163 countries in 2010. Let's hope the polititions in different countries can benefit from such index and improve the environment and quality of life in their countries.

(Environmental Performance Index. Click on the figure to visit their website)