The US and PCT patent organizations published the following patents and applications during the first weeks of September 2010:

  1. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0224246 (Naval Research Lab) relates to a photosynthetically replenished microbial solar cell with the capability of electrical power generation during light and dark periods. The solar cell includes a microbial fuel cell formed by a cathode electrode within a catholyte and an anode electrode within an anolyte. Photosynthetic organisms, which may be obtained from seawater are provided within the catholyte. The anolyte may be obtained from anoxic marine sediment. The photosynthetic organisms generate reactants and products of the microbial fuel cell from sunlight.
  2. US Patent Pub. Nos. 2010/0224560 and 2010/0227390 relate to a method and device, respectively, for concentrating ethanol from the ethanol water solution produced during the conversion of lignocellulosic materials. The method involves pervaporation to generate an ethanol vapor from the ethanol water solution. The ethanol vapor is condensed to produce concentrated ethanol. The device includes a water separating membrane, which comprises polypyrrole doped with an aromatic or aliphatic sulfonated ion.
  3. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0224711 (GS Cleantech Corporation) relates to a method of conditioning biomass used in ethanol production. The method includes flash dessicating the biomass to reduce particle size, mixing the biomass with a liquid carrier, and exposing the mixture to a mechanical hydrodynamic cavitation process. The biomass can be corn or other forms of biomass. The liquid carrier can be water.
  4. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0227368 (TM Industrial Supply, Inc.) relates to a compact renewable energy system for producing biodiesel and ethanol. The system includes a biomass energy unit for receiving a source of biomass energy, a power plant for converting the biomass energy into electric power and steam, a biodiesel unit for converting vegetable oil and animal fat into biodiesel, a corn unit for producing ethanol and corn oil, a corn stover unit for producing ethanol and biomass, and an algae farm unit for producing algae oil, wherein the biodiesel unit, corn unit, corn stover unit and algae farm each receive electric power and/or steam from the power plant. The system further includes a fermentation cycle unit associated with the corn and corn stover units. The fermentation unit provides carbon dioxide to the algae unit, and the corn unit and algae unit each provide oil to the bio-diesel unit.
  5. US Patent Pub. Nos. 2010/0227369 and 2010/0233771 relate to a method of producing ethanol and a biorefinery incorporating the method. The method of the ‘369 application involves separating pre-treated biomass into a first component comprising pentose and a second component comprising hexose, providing an ethanogen capable of fermenting xylose at a concentration of less than 150 grams of ethanologen on a dry basis per liter of first component, and fermenting the first component at specified conditions of temperature 26-37 degrees C), pH (4.5-6.0), and time (no less than 18 hours). The method of the ‘771 application involves pre-treating biomass and separating the biomass into a liquid component containing xylose and a solids component. The biomass pre-treatment is carried out for 8-12 minutes using dilute acid having a concentration of 0.8 to 1.1 percent by weight at a temperature of 130 to 170 degrees C.
  6. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0229980 and 2010/0233772 (Syngenta Participations, AG) relate to a modular system for admixing a second stream of plant material into a first stream of plant material, which is within an ethanol production facility. The second stream of plant material is an enzyme-containing grain, whereas the first stream of plant material is a commodity grain. The enzyme-containing grain can be a transgenic grain expressing enzyme useful in downstream applications of an ethanol production facility. The modular system includes one or more portable storage units and a portable processing unit in communication with each of the storage units. The storage units receive the enzyme-containing grain material and can be transported between ethanol production facilities. The processing unit mixes the enzyme-containing grain material with the commodity grain material so that the enzyme is provided in effective amounts to carry out downstream enzymatic applications.
  7. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0233747 relates to an enzymatic method for determining ethanol content that minimizes or eliminates interference by ethanol vapor from ambient air. The method involves incubating a first mixture of reagent composition “A” and a sample whose ethanol content is to be determined, incubating the first mixture with reagent composition “B” and determining the ethanol content. Reagent composition A includes an alcohol dehydrogenase, NAD(P), a buffer which produces a pH of at least 7.5, and either a compound which is able to form a Schiff base with acetaldehyde or an aldehyde dehyrogenase. Reagent composition B includes reagents for the colorimetric determination of NAD(P)H inhibition of alcohol dehydrogenase. Ethanol content is determined according to the color formed during the second incubation.
  8. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0233773 (The University of Toledo) relates to a method of pre-treating biomass used in fuel and chemical production. The method involves incubating microcrystalline cellulose with an ionic liquid and recovering essentially amorphous or a mixture or amorphous and partially crystalline cellulose by rapidly quenching the ionic liquid with an anti-solvent. According to the specification, with optical treatment conditions and enzyme loadings, initial rates of hydrolysis of ionic-liquid treated cellulose were two orders or magnitude higher than those observed with untreated cellulose.
  9. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0233770 relates to a method of producing both electricity and ethanol from biomass on a continuous, year-round basis. The method involves growing and harvesting biomass, particularly sweet sorgham, year round on acreage contiguous to processing plant. Sugar juice is extracted from the biomass leaving bagasse. The bagasse is dried and gasified to generate steam to drive a steam turbine producing electricity. The sugar juice is fermented and distilled to produce ethanol.
  10. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0233775 relates to a hybrid gasification/anaerobic digestion method for producing methane. The method involves gasification of biomass to produce syngas, and conversion of syngas to methane using methanogenic archea, which are housed in a reactor to facilitate contact between the syngas and microorganisms. According to the specification, the method produces a fuel which is directly compatible with existing energy distribution and use equipment, uses a variety of feed stocks ranging from corn stover to perennial grasses to wood without loss of yield per ton of saleable energy, can utilize feedstock harvested late in season and after frost, is economical at a scale of 200 ton per day or less, is modular to allow initial construction and expansion as the biomass supply chain becomes established and more efficient, and produces cellular biomass that can have useful and economic value.
  11. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0234638 and WO2010/104722 (Biofine Technologies, LLC) relates to a method for producing formic acid from biomass. The method involves acid hydrolysis of the biomass to an intermediate hydrolysate containing one or more sugars followed by additional hydrolysis of the intermediate hydrolysate to a hydrolysate product containing formic acid. The acid hydrolysis of the biomass can be performed in an aqueous slurry with a mineral acid, such as sulfuric acid, in an amount of about 1-10% wt of the contents of the slurry, at a temperature of 190-235 degrees C for about 10 to 60 seconds. The additional hydrolysis can be performed using mineral acid in an amount of 3.0 to 4.4% of the hydroylsate liquid material, at a temperature of 150-210 degrees (for example less than 195 degrees), and for a time period of 10-60 minutes.
  12. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0234458 (Cognis IP Management GMBH) relates to a method for making biodiesel from carbohydrates and vegetable triglycerides. The method involves a two-phase enzymatic transesterification of a triglyceride and/or an ester of a fatty acid with an aqueous aliphatic alcohol. The triglyceride can be any oil from a renewable resource, and the alcohol is preferably ethanol obtained from fermentation process involving an initial carbohydrate input such as sugar, starch, inulin, cellulose, and lignocellulose. The enzyme preferably has high acyl transferase activity in the presence of water and no or very low activity for the hydrolysis of ester bonds.
  13. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0221798 (LS9, Inc.) relates to compositions and methods for producing hydrocarbons used in biofuels. The compositions include genetically engineered microorganisms that contain cyanobacterial genes encoding hydrocarbon biosynthetic polypeptides. The methods include culturing the microorganisms under conditions suitable for gene expression and isolating the resultant aldehyde.
  14. US Patent No. 7,794,548 (Crown Iron Works Company) relates to a process for preparing corn kernels for processing into ethanol. The process involves milling the corn kernals into germ particles and starch-containing particles, mechanically separating the two types of particles, mixing the starch-containing particles with an ethanol-water mixture to form a carbohydrate slurry stream of starch and fiber, transferring the slurry to a settling tank to allow a portion of the fibers to settle, removing the upper volume of the slurry to form a reduced fiber liquid carbohydrate stream, and mixing the reduced fiber liquid carbohydrate stream with an enzyme to convert starch into sugar. The process can also involve separating corn oil from the germ particles by using C02 produced through fermentation of the sugar to dissolve the corn oil.
  15. US Patent No. 7,794,969 (Joule Unlimited, Inc.) relates to genetically-modified cyanobacterium, and methods of producing alkanes using the engineered cyanobacterium. The cyanobacterium comprise a recombinant acyl ACP reductase and a recombinant alkanal decarboxylative monooxygenase. Alkanes are produced when the cyanobacterium are exposed to light and carbon dioxide.
  16. WO2010/104896 (Qteros, Inc.) relates to methods of producing ethanol and other organic products by Clostridium microorganisms, particularly Clostridium phytofermentans such as strain ISDgT. The application also relates to methods of improving fermentation performance of Clostridium microorganisms though use of a fed-batch strategy.
  17. WO2010/104938 (Athena Biotechnologies, Inc.) relates to compositions and methods of reducing or eliminating production of carbon dioxide during production of ethanol via microbial fermentation. The compositions include microorgansims engineered to inactivate competing pathways for ethanol production that produce CO2 from pyruvate or from formate. For example, the microorganism can be engineered to inactivate pyruvate decarboxylase, pyruvate-ferredoxin oxidoreductase, and/or pyruvate dehydrogenase. The microorganism can further be engineered to express pyruvate-formate lyase for production of formate instead of carbon dioxide. Alternatively, the microorganism can be engineered to inactive formate-hydrogen lyase and/or formate dehydrogenase. The microorganism can be further engineered to express formate reductase to convert formate to formaldehyde, to express hexulose phosphate synthase and phosphohexulose isomerase, and/or phosphate dehydrogenase. The method includes incubating a microorganism in a culture medium having both fermentable and non-fermentable portions, wherein the non-fermentable portion can be oxidized by the microorganism thereby minimizing the need for oxidiation of the fermentable portion.
  18. WO2010/104763 (Sapphire Energy Inc.) relates to microorganisms which are genetically engineered to produce terpenes and terpenoids such as fusicoccadiene for use as fuel molecules or components. The engineered microorganisms comprise a nucleic acid encoding a terpene synthase, for example a diterpene synthase such as the fusicoccadiene synthase, PaFS (Phomopsis amygdali fusicoccadiene synthase). The specification exemplifies introduction of certain synthases into various hosts including certain bacteria, yeast, algal, cyanobacterium and vascular plant cell hosts.
  19. WO2010/102952 (Novozymes A/S) relates to an enzymatic method for reducing the content of steryl glycoside in biodiesel. The method involves contacting biodiesel, particularly a composition comprising fatty acid alkyl ester in which at least 80 wt.% of fatty acids in the fatty acid alkyl ester, with an enzyme capable of acylating the steryl glycoside. The enzyme can be a lipase classified as EC 3.1.1, particularly EC
  20. WO2010/103223 (Arkema, France), which is in French, relates to an aviation fuel composition comprising chemicals produced from renewable sources.
  21. WO2010/103530 (Godavari Biorefineries Ltd.) relates to the use Saccharomyces cerevisiae MTCC 5452 strain for fermenting C-5 sugars and/or C-6 sugars in the production of ethanol. The novel strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is isolated from nature by collecting soil samples from the vicinity of Somaiya Organo Chemicals distillery in Sakharwadi, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India.
  22. WO2010/104371 (Universiti Malaya) relates to a chemical method for saccharifying cellulosic materials. The method involves heating ground cellulosic materials with perchloric acid, neutralizing the heated materials with alkali to yield a salt precipitate, and filtering the salt precipitate off to obtain the aqueous sugar solution. Heating can be at a temperature range of 30 to 70 degrees C, the percholoric acid can be 60-72% perchloric acid, and the weight ration of perchloric and cellulose materials is 4-5:1. The specification includes examples using pure cellulose, paddy straw and paper as the cellulosic material.
  23. WO2010/104562 relates to a method and device for the production of methane from carbon dioxide, for example that is sequestered from the atmosphere. The method involves sequestering carbon dioxide by using photosynthetic microorganisms to metabolize carbon dioxide, and then using methanogenic microorganisms to anaerobically digest the photosynthetic microorganisms thereby producing methane. The device includes an anaerobic digester, and a biomass incubator located within the anaerobic digester. Methanogenic microorganisms are located within the anaerobic digester, and the biomass incubator is configure to receive water, carbon and biomass.
  24. WO2010/105226 (University of Washington) relates to novel endophytic yeast strains capable of metabolizing both pentose and hexose sugars, recombinant organisms incorporating a gene from an endophytic yeast also capable of fermenting both pentose and hexose sugars, and a method of producing ethanol using the endophytic yeast strains and recombinant organisms. The yeast strains can be Rhodotorula graminis strain WP1, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa strain PTD2, Rhodotorula nmucilginosa strain Ad1. The gene can be novel Xylose Dehydrogenase and Xylose Reductase genes from the identified endophytic yeast strains.