Top NSF petascale supercomputer and expert staff accelerate discoveries for nation's scientists

Published on May 27, 2014 by Aaron Dubrow

Active site model of a critical enzyme in T. aurantiacus, a heat-loving mold. Credit: Gregg T. Beckham, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Converting Biomass to Fuels

Scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are using Stampede to determine how certain enzymes break down cellulose (plant cell walls) to improve biofuel production.

In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January 2014, they modeled a new enzyme that could significantly speed up the process by which cellulose is broken down. The enzymes represent an important, unique discovery in the multitude of carbohydrate-active enzymes because of their prevalence in nature and their importance to cost-effective biomass deconstruction. Using Stampede, they examined two catalytic mechanisms that suggest that fungal enzymes exhibit a copper-oxyl mediated, oxygen rebound mechanism. The group is also using Stampede to design chemical catalysts for high-temperature deoxygenation chemistry, which is important to convert biomass to fuels.

Said NREL Senior Engineer Gregg Beckham: "Stampede has been an absolutely essential resource for our group to examine biological and chemical catalysts important for the production of renewable transportation fuels from lignocellulosic biomass".

Back to overview >>