Organizing enzymes to create electricity

Mar 07, 2013

An assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering has recently received a $360,000 grant to better organize enzymes on electrodes to create nanoscale devices that more efficiently convert the chemical energy of sugars and complex carbohydrates in to electricity.

Ian Wheeldon, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering, is one of 40 scientists and engineers to receive an award from the Young Investigator Program run by Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He will receive the funding over three years.

In nature, enzymes are often in precisely organized multi-enzyme structures. Influenced by nature, spatial organization of multi-enzyme pathways has emerged as a tool in bionanotechnology, synthetic biology and, most recently, bioenergy systems.

Initial experiments have shown spatial organization of enzymatic pathways has resulted in increased in . However, there is a lack of understanding of the fundamental principles that govern kinetics.

"This limits engineering pathways to trial-and-error approaches," Wheeldon said. "That's an impossible task when increasingly complex pathways are considered, such as those need for advanced biofuel cells."

The first objective of Wheeldon's project is to define relationships between multi-enzyme scaffold design and pathway reaction rate. These relationships will define a set of rules that can enhance kinetics by spatial organization.

The second objective is to apply the newly developed understanding of multi-enzyme pathways to create novel anodes for enzymatic biofuel cells.

Beyond biofuel cells, potential applications include new synthesis routes for pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, and commodity chemicals, such as ethers and biofuels.

Explore further: Research team announces new class of compounds that appear to be effective against malaria

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process

Dec 27, 2010

Conversion of biomass to fuel requires several steps: chemical pretreatment to break up the biomass – often dilute (sulfuric) acid, detoxification to remove the toxic chemicals required in pretreatment, and microbial ...

Creating energy from light and air

May 08, 2012

Researchers from the University are studying how to make electricity from electrodes coated in bacteria, and other living cells, using light or hydrogen as the fuel.

Form and function in enzyme activity

Apr 06, 2012

Many industrial chemistry applications, such as drug or biofuel synthesis, require large energy inputs and often produce toxic pollutants. But chemistry and chemical biology professor Mary Jo Ondrechen said ...

Recommended for you

Molecules that came in handy for first life on Earth

Nov 24, 2014

For the first time, chemists have successfully produced amino acid-like molecules that all have the same 'handedness', from simple building blocks and in a single test tube. Could this be how life started. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.