Developing the Fuels of the Future
The Obama administration, along with the U.S. Department of Energy, has just announced $10 million worth of grants to aid in the development of alternative energy sources, namely novel biofuels.
Among the recipients of the grants is School of Pharmacy Associate Professor Clay Wang, who will be collaborating with The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, other universities and industry representatives on a new project that aims to increase the production of fuel molecules in fungi growing on lignocellulosic hydrolysate. The grant is a two-year, $2.4 million grant based out of Richland, Washington.
“These projects use innovative synthetic biological and chemical techniques to convert biomass into processable sugars that can be transformed into bioproducts and drop-in biofuels for cars, trucks, and planes,” the Department of Energy explained in a release.
Wang’s previous work has focused on exploring possible uses of naturally occurring microorganisms as drugs, with a particular emphasis on natural product biosynthesis – using genomics for natural drug development. His lab has discovered that the fungi Aspergillus nidulans and the bacteria Streptomyces both have the ability to produce many more drugs than was previously believed. Wang has also developed a biosynthetic method to upregulate or downregulate these genes to change what is produced and to create new drugs.
His grant is one of five receiving funding from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which was established to accelerate development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.