Concern for the environment, plus the depletion of fossil fuels has generated great interest among various sectors of society, making the ways of producing biofuels more affordable and efficient. The use of ethanol from renewable raw materials, such as sugarcane bagasse, represents a potential alternative source of energy, and it has been considered feasible and promising in Brazil. However, to make possible the use of biomass it is necessary to degrade cellulose, a constituent of the cell wall, to fermentable sugars. One form of degradation is the enzymatic hydrolysis, which is quite advantageous in many respects, especially as regards the use of "green chemistry". However, the use of enzymes for this purpose still presents high cost, which has led to more studies to make cellulosic ethanol economically viable. The structural knowledge of the enzymes as well as the interaction of these with the pre-treated bagasse from sugarcane during the hydrolysis is extremely important. Physical techniques such as small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), dynamic light scattering (DLS), circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) are available for this purpose. To develop the project, close collaboration has been established with profs. Dr. Adilson Roberto Gonçalves (USP / Lorena) and Dr. George Jackson de Moraes Rocha (Centro de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol - CTBE), besides the infrastructure available in the Grupo de Biotecnologia Molecular (FFI / BM) under the coordination of prof. Dr. Igor Polikarpov (USP / São Carlos), also coordinator of FAPESP Thematic Project "Structure and Function of Enzymes and Proteins from Trichoderma Auxiliary, Active in Cell-Wall Hydrolysis,". Thus, this study aims at understanding the molecular basis of the functioning of enzymes for application in the production of bioethanol from sugarcane bagasse and will be held in sync with the theme of this FAPESP project and under INCT Bioethanol (Coord. Prof. Dr. Marcos Buckeridge) which our group is part.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: