Canadian Researchers Advance Key Enabling 'Green Chemistry' Process, Then Open Source It For the World

February 25 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 2

wikipeptide

The vision of 'Green Chemisty' is to create the basic components used in making materials, energy, food and pharmaceuticals using sustainable practices, often without the use of petroleum based feedstocks.

Researchers from McGilll University have announced a breakthrough in a key enabling building block technology for 'green chemistry' that could not previously be explained by 'classical chemistry'.

The team led by Chemistry professor Chao-Jun (C.J.) Li discovered an entirely new way of synthesizing peptides by using simple reagents that will enable a lower cost method for building larger molecules. 

Peptides are short polymer chains that Mother Nature uses as a foundation for building proteins and other bio-materials.  

Creating a Simple, Low Cost Process
“Currently, to generate peptides you must use a peptide synthesizer, an expensive piece of high-tech equipment,” explained Li, Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry. “You need to purchase every single separate amino acid unit that makes up the peptide, and feed them into the machine one by one, which then assembles them. Every time you need a new peptide, you need to synthesize it individually from scratch.”

The team's process is based on 'a single, simple “skeleton” peptide which can be modified into any other peptide needed with the addition of a simple reagent.'

Open Innovation, Access to All
Not only has the team announced the process breakthrough, but it is taking the high road to advancing global efforts by opening the information to anyone.

“This is really an enabling new technology,” he added, “and since McGill has decided not to patent it, we’re making our method available to everyone. We are paying the journal’s open access fee, so anyone in the world can access the paper.”

Related Green Chemistry Posts:

Continue Reading

[Video] CNN Reporters Clueless to Biological Origins of Oil, Time For An Energy 101 Literacy Campaign

March 02 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 2

[Ok, this is a snarky post, but I'm leaving it up.  It seems reasonable to assume that CNN would have a Producer, Writer or Intern make a stronger connection between 'hydrocarbons' like coal and oil that originated from biomass (plants and diatoms).  Instead CNN frames algae like a space alien recipe.]

Gas 2.0 writer Nick Chambers has featured a CNN video clip of baffled reporters who 'have just discovered algae' based energy systems via a look at Origin Oil's helix bioreactor. 

The CNN correspondents are clueless to the biological origins of oil and the basics of energy science- namely that everytime we drive our car we are breaking apart hydrogen-carbon bonds formed by ancient algae.  So tapping the power of algae to bind molecules for energy feedstocks is not 'science fiction', it is Mother Nature.    

[Peaking in snarky tone right there...] The clip shows how disconnected we are from understanding even the basics of energy systems and where energy comes from.  (It's scary how many people I meet that still think 'fossil fuels' are ancient dinosaurs.)  And it is not a surprise that shallow 'consuming green' strategies dominate public conversations, despite falling flat in terms of offering global solutions.

Could we get science back into the conversaton? How about teaching our children and news reporters the most basic '101' energy science. Oil is not pixie dust, it comes from somewhere.

CNN should educate its reporter on what they fill up in their gas tank.  Because it's ancient algae. 

Related algae posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

Continue Reading