The research projects in the Nomura Research Group range from the production of biofuels to the generation of natural materials from biorenwable resources.
Our main projects include:
- Development of bio-based fuels and energy.
- Conversion of low-value carbon waste streams to value-added biodegradable polymers.
- Enzyme and metabolic engineering for improved biodegradable polymer production.
- Development of new PHA polymer applications
Poly[(R)-3-hydroxyalkanoates] (PHAs) are intracellular carbon and energy
storage compounds accumulated in various bacteria grown under depletion of essential
nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or magnesium. PHAs have attracted research
attention because they can be used as biodegradable plastics with a wide range
of applications. Because of their potential to replace non-biodegradable plastics,
it is desirable to develop methods to improve PHA polymer production.
By taking a multi-disciplinary approach to PHA research where we examine growth
conditions, gene expression, and enzymes involved in PHA production, combined
with the characterization of the PHA polymer physical properties, we create a
platform on which we can engineer new and efficient modes of PHA production and
develop new polymers for specific applications.
A current research project being carried out by Greg Boyd is the development
of a sustainable biodiesel production facility on the SUNY-ESF campus. Currently
we are using waste fry oil generated by Syracuse University dining commons as
a precursor for biodiesel production (photos). We are also performing various
ASTM tests to validate the biodiesel produced.
PHA production from biodiesel-process waste glycerol
The byproduct of biodiesel production is glycerol . This biodiesel-process
waste glycerol is a low value commodity and the purity is very poor as compared
to the USP grade of glycerol. A current project in the lab is to develop this
waste glycerol as a feedstock for PHA production.
Metabolic engineering for PHA production
We are designing new metabolic pathways for PHA production in recombinant organisms. We do this by removing genes encoding enzymes for metabolic pathways that compete with PHA production and by engineering enzymes involved in PHA production for improved specific activity and substrate specificity.