The Q Microbe wasn’t restricted to one or two of the very complex components that make up plants, but could break down all of them, and its main product was ethanol
Marlborough, MA (Vocus) December 12, 2009
Dr. Susan Leschine, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, professor whose research led to her cofound advanced-biofuels company Qteros, has been named one of the Top 25 Women in Tech by media trendsetter AlwaysOn. Those named to the first-annual list were chosen for overall innovation, ability to identify new market opportunities, and creation of stakeholder value, among other criteria.
A decade ago, Dr. Leschine came across a unique anaerobic microbe, now known as the Q Microbe™, near the Quabbin Reservoir in western Massachusetts. Her discovery and subsequent research led to the founding of Qteros, which is using the microbe to make cellulosic ethanol quickly and cost effectively from plant waste.
In her UMass Amherst lab, Leschine continues to work diligently on the Q Microbe. “We’re finding novel steps in the pathway to ethanol production, which suggest some new biology,” she says.
Ethanol is a typical microbe byproduct, but for nearly all of the microbes Leschine had studied from around the world, ethanol production was negligible. Once she learned the potential of this microbe, she realized that it was no ordinary bug. “The Q Microbe wasn’t restricted to one or two of the very complex components that make up plants, but could break down all of them, and its main product was ethanol,” Leschine says.
And the more cellulose the microbe is fed, the more ethanol it produces. “That was a key discovery—that this microbe had potential for commercialization in a process to convert biomass into ethanol.”
Qteros, which she cofounded in 2006, was originally called SunEthanol. As the company has grown to 45 full-time employees, Leschine’s role has shifted to scientific consultant, while she holds down her teaching and advising positions at the university. But she remains committed to the superbug that started it all. “It gives me great satisfaction to see Qteros harnessing the power of the Q Microbe, discovered in my lab at UMass Amherst, to sustainably meet our country’s energy needs.”
“It has been an honor for us to work with Dr. Leschine to take this technology from the lab to market,” said Qteros CEO Bill Frey. “Susan is a leader in her field, and through our work together we will expand the future of bioenergy worldwide.”
Dr. Leschine joins leaders of such companies as Flickr, Google, Scribd, and Facebook in garnering this recognition. “It is such an honor to be part of this talented group of women who are passionate about realizing the full potential and benefit of their innovative technologies,” remarked Dr. Leschine.
Susan Leschine and other recipients of the award were celebrated at a special luncheon, presented by Accenture, at "Venture Summit Silicon Valley" on December 8.
For interviews with Dr. Leschine, please contact Peter Kelley at 301-887-1060.
Qteros is a venture-backed company committed to delivering innovative process technologies for clean transportation fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a price competitive with gasoline. We are scaling up a unique microbial solution for converting non-food plants and waste into clean transportation energy. Our patented Q Microbe™ converts a wide array of cellulosic biomass directly into ethanol in a single step, consolidating enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation, largely eliminating costly enzymes and associated pretreatments, and simplifying the entire production process. The Qteros scientists and business team are dedicated to producing liquid fuels to achieve a sustainable solution to the world's growing energy needs. Qteros, formerly known as SunEthanol, has received funding from Venrock, Battery Ventures, DOE, and others. For more information, visit http://www.Qteros.com.
AlwaysOn ignited the open-media revolution in early 2003 by being the first media brand to launch a global blog network. In 2004, AlwaysOn continued to lead the media industry in innovation by introducing a social network where members can connect and engage. AlwaysOn is also revolutionizing the media business by applying its open-media principles to its executive event series (Summit at Stanford, OnMedia, OnHollywood, OnDC, GoingGreen East and West, Venture Summit East and West) and quarterly print “blogozine” by empowering its members to post and share their ideas and meet each other online. AlwaysOn is committed to the free-market, merit-driven approach to reporting and event programming. No other media brand has dared to create such open interaction with its readers and event participants.
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