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Researchers at the University of Minnesota have engineered a new synthetic biopathway that can more efficiently and cost-effectively turn agricultural waste, like corn stover and orange peels, into a variety of useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed.
The groundbreaking study was published February 9 in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
For years, researchers have been looking for more sustainable sources for the raw materials used to make the products we use every day. Recently, biomass made from corn or sugarcane is used in manufacturing of a wide range of non-food products from plastics to fuel. . . .
In this study, researchers looked at turning inedible biological byproducts, that scientists call lignocelluloslic biomass, . . . They specifically looked at the process to use lignocellulosic biomass to produce butanediol (BDO) that is used to produce more than 1 billion pounds of spandex each year used in clothing and home furnishings.
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What excited researchers the most was that this pathway could be used for more than just producing BDO for spandex. It can be used to produce a variety of useful products.
“We found that this new platform could be used to convert agricultural waste to chemicals that can be used for many other products ranging from chicken feed to flavor enhancers in food,” said the study’s lead researcher Kechun Zhang. . .
“The pathway we developed was sustainable so it is better for the environment. This study is also one of the few examples of artificial metabolic pathways constructed so far,” Zhang added.
Read full, original post: Scientists create synthetic biopathway to turn agriculture waste into ‘green’ products