March 23, 2010 11:20 AM
By Erin Ailworth, Globe Staff
Qteros Inc. in Marlborough and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have patented the fermentation method they use to make biofuel, a plant-based alternative to gasoline, using the so-called Q Microbe.
According to the company, the Q Microbe allows Qteros to streamline the process they use to breakdown plant material into sugars that can then be turned into ethanol, making that fuel easier and cheaper to produce.
"The Q Microbe technology offers numerous important advantages over other ethanol-producing microorganisms, which we believe provides the operational foundation for profitable, commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production," Qteros chief executive John A. McCarthy Jr. said in a statement today announcing the patent, which he said "underscores the significance and the unique nature of our technology."
Being able to produce ethanol cheaply and on a large scale is a challenge faced by those in the biofuel industry. Many hope that their products will one day compete with oil-derived gasoline, cutting the nation's dependence on foreign oil and offering an environmentally-friendly way of powering vehicles and other gasoline-driven machinery.