Only 10 years ago the "brown rot" wood degrading fungi were considered to be poorly evolved organisms in the fungal world. It was known that they lacked many of the enzymatic systems that the taxonomically more numerous "white rot" wood degrading fungi possessed, and it was thought that the brown rot fungi just had not yet reached a stage of evolution to produce these enzymatic systems. In essence, they were thought to be more primitive fungal organisms. However, new genomic analyses conducted over the last 7-8 years have turned this thinking on its head.
Each potential adopter faces a crucial decision--to lease or to own the panels. Leasing the panels from a solar company incurs little to no upfront cost. A fixed lease payment, however, reduces the net saving from the electricity generated by the panels. On the other hand, owning solar panels includes a high immediate cost with a higher return in future periods resulting from the absence of lease payments. Moreover, solar owners can receive additional revenue from selling Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC).
Reaching the potential for renewable biofuels depends on the development of new technologies that are able to release the energy stored in cellulose fibers. This research project centers around an unusual microbe, Clostridium phytofermentans, that can convert a broad range of biomass sources directly to ethanol without expensive thermochemical pretreatment. Further development of conversion processes using C. phytofermentans will create a path to renewable biofuels using our region's sustainable forestry and crop resources.