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Qteros works towards carbon-neutral energy

By: Emily Reynolds

Collegian Staff

*originally posted Tuesday, December 2, 2008

 

The Department of Energy has given four research grants to local company Qteros, formerly SunEthanol, who will be building a plant in Springfield starting next year.

The company is based around “Q,” a microbe found in the Quabbin Reservoir by UMass microbiologist Thomas Warnick. Professor Susan Leschine, chief scientist and cofounder of the company, found the qualities of “Q” that will apparently revolutionize energy.

Basically, “Q” will eat plant waste from cars that use ethanol, and then will create more ethanol from the waste, making it a carbon-neutral source of energy.

Qteros has already made huge leaps in the field, increasing productivity by 15 times. According to their website, www.qteros.com, the expense of breaking down plant material has been reduced with a new process, called C3. Complete Cellulosic Conversion makes it so that “Q” can multitask. A four-step process has been turned into a three-step process by making “Q” decompose the plant waste and convert it into ethanol at the same time.

Qteros is being recognized as a contributor to reaching the goals set by president-elect Obama of reducing dependence on foreign fossil fuels. He plans to invest $150 billion into researching clean energy technology, which is great since Congress mandated that 16 billion gallons of biofuels need to be advanced cellulosic biofuels by 2022.

Some people are hoping that the cheaper and energy efficient “Q” will save money, and maybe even spur some economic growth in fields like farming where additional supplies will be used in the lab.

Emily Reynolds can be reached at ereynold@student.umass.edu. 

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