University of Maryland research that started with bacteria from the Chesapeake Bay has led to the development of a bacterium, called Saccharophagus degradans which can break down almost any source of biomass, or plant life, into sugars, which can then be converted into ethanol and other biofuels.
That process, developed by University of Maryland professors Steve Hutcheson and Ron Weiner, professors of cell biology and molecular genetics, is the foundation of their incubator company Zymetis.
They discovered how to produce the enzyme in their own laboratories. The result was Ethazyme, a bacterium that creates a mixture of enzymes—through a patent-pending system which degrades the tough cell walls of cellulosic materials into bio-fuel ready sugars in one step, which are then converted into ethanol and other biofuels at a significantly lower cost and with fewer caustic chemicals than current methods.
“We believe we have the most economical way to produce biofuels from cellulosic material”
— Steve Hutcheson, CEO of Zymetis Inc.