TABLE 6.1 Future Research Needs

Workshop Participant

Suggestions for Future Research

Peter Preusch

National Institutes of Health

(Chapter 2)

  • Address the underlying principles of how to control the metabolism of an organism.

  • Analyze the complexity of biological systems.

  • Understand and influence feedback loops.

  • Understand logic circuits and how best to represent them.

Brent Erickson

Biotechnology Industry Organization

(Chapter 2)

  • Develop technologies that go beyond a simple starch-to-ethanol platform.

  • Deal with biomass waste using genetically modified organisms.

  • Address issues regarding the biorefinery infrastructure.

Magdalena Ramirez

British Petroleum

(Chapter 2)

  • Determine what to do with the waste from biorefining and how to innovatively process the final product.

Daniel Nocera

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

(Chapter 2)

  • Solve the multibody problem, a fundamental physics theory for reaction chemistry.

  • New discoveries in catalysis and new modes of reactivity.

  • Find new ways to split water.

  • Discover new fundamental molecular science.

  • Discover new microbes or thermochemical catalysts for lignin and cellulose conversion

Michael Wasielewski

Northwestern University

(Chapter 3)

  • Need instrumentation allowing mechanistic studies with high-time resolution.

  • Need systems that provide dynamic detail and mechanistic studies.

  • Identify more structural changes as a function of time.

Marcetta Darensbourg

Texas A&M University

(Chapter 3)

  • More work on mutations.

Thomas Rauchfuss

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne

(Chapter 3)

  • Need for research on bioinspired syngas-like chemistry

Thomas Moore

Arizona State University

(Chapter 4)

  • Engineer a catalyst to break carbon-carbon bonds so that a direct ethanol fuel cell can be developed.

  • Research focused on fuels by photosynthesis created by cyanobacteria grown on nonarable land and photovoltaics for electricity.

  • Reengineer photosynthesis to double or triple its power of conversion efficiency.

G. Tayhas Palmore

Brown University

(Chapter 4)

  • Facile expression of enzymes using heterologous hosts.

  • Truncated enzymes.

  • Acidophilic and thermophilic organisms and their enzymes in the stabilization of chemistry.

  • Stabilization of enzymes.

  • Electroactive nanocomposites.

  • New redox-active compounds.

  • Turnover numbers vs. measured current.

  • Engineered microorganisms.

Mark Emptage


(Chapter 4)

  • Basic understanding of how the enzymes operate on complex structures.

  • The upcoming farm bill (H.R. 2419) will have a significant portion dedicated to renewable energy and energy crops.2

  • There are new federal government policies and funding mechanisms supporting cellulosic ethanol research, development, and commercialization.

During the discussion after the “Fundamental Aspects” session (Chapter 3), Marcetta Darensbourg of Texas A&M University pointed out that it is not enough to fund only chemists. She said that biologists need to be adequately funded as well, and that computational chemistry is also critical to solving the energy problem. .


Workshop speakers and participants indicated ways to improve education and training in the area of bioinspired chemistry for energy, including K-12, undergraduate and graduate education, postdoctoral training, and workforce training.


As of September 4, 2007, H.R. 2419 was received in the Senate.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement