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YSI (UK) Limited

Demands on crop production

YSI is trying to help both food and biofuel demands on crops with our research into cellulosic ethanol production.

With oil prices continuing to increase and the pressure on world leaders to reduce carbon emissions to slow climate change, many are looking to biofuels as a renewable and clean source of energy. However, planned increases in the production of biofuel have been tempered in the light of rising food prices.

Evidence is mounting to support the view that the use of crops for producing biofuels has contributed significantly to world-wide increases in food prices and food shortage.

At YSI, the scientists have been researching into cellulosic ethanol production, that is, using the wasted part of the crop only. Unlike corn grain bioethanol production that involves the conversion of starch to ethanol, agricultural residues and other biomass that contain cellulose have the potential to be significantly more economical in producing fuel grade ethanol, leaving the main crop for food production. Pretreated cellulosic materials release a number of fermentable sugars – xylose and glucose typically make up the majority of these sugars. YSI is excited to announce the introduction of its newest enzyme membrane, xylose, for use on the current YSI 2900, 2700 and YSI 7100 platforms.

Configured with glucose on the opposite electrode researchers can now take advantage of a one-minute, simultaneous measurement of xylose and glucose. There is no other method available that can offer a xylose measurement with comparable speed and accuracy. We can now measure more samples in less time with just 13 microlitres of sample.

YSI Life Sciences has worked with both the US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and with a major producer of industrial enzymes in testing the xylose/glucose method. Both facilities have found the method to be a valuable new tool in their studies. At NREL xylose and glucose were monitored during late phases of fermentation using recombinant yeast. HPLC results were taking 40 minutes or more for each sample. The speed of result and accuracy comparable to HPLC were primary reasons that NREL cited in using the YSI 2700 method.

To complement the xylose/glucose chemistry measurement, we have developed PC-based software that serves as the primary user-interface. Through use of a 2700/PC interface cable, the software remotely controls the YSI 2700 and collects, displays and stores data in file format. The software was developed in LabView™, providing the operator a more user-friendly interface.

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