Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory masthead A-Z Index Berkeley Lab masthead U.S. Department of Energy logo Phone Book Jobs Search
Tech Transfer

Licensing Interest Form Receive Customized Tech Alerts

Thermophilic Endoglucanase Enzymes Engineered for Increased Activity




  • Hydrolysis of pretreated biomass for biofuels production
  • Paper recycling and pulp processing for paper manufacturing
  • Any application involving recovery of sugars from biomass


  • Compatible with ionic liquid pretreatment
  • More efficient than naturally occurring enzymes
  • More stable than commercially available enzymes
  • Enzymes can be recovered and reused
  • Maintains increased activity at temperatures up to 85ºC


Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have generated and identified new enzyme variants of cellulase from the thermophile Thermotoga maritima with catalytic activities significantly higher than naturally existing (wild type) endoglucanases. The JBEI enzymes allow for more efficient cellulose hydrolysis at high temperatures, and they are more stable at high temperatures than commercially available enzymes.

Endoglucanases are enzymes that serve as the starting point in the hydrolysis of cellulosic polymers to simpler sugars. Because they are biodegradable, endoglucanases are desirable for green chemistry applications. However, the activity of enzymes occurring in nature is generally too low for industrial applications. Current industrial methods rely on enzymes isolated from fungi to break down biomass; but these enzymes maintain high activity only to a maximum temperature of 55ºC compared with 85ºC for the JBEI enzymes.

The advantage of high temperature enzymatic hydrolysis is its aseptic operation, which eliminates the chance that the resulting sugars could be contaminated by microbes. Because these microbes are typically not thermophilic, contamination is a significant risk when working at lower temperatures. Operating at high temperatures also means that the process could be carried out as a one step pretreatment and hydrolysis reaction that combines cellulose hydrolysis by the Thermotoga maritima enzyme with pretreatment conditions such as steam expansion or ionic liquid.

This technology is best considered in conjunction with JBEI invention EJIB-2666, Thermophilic Cellulases Compatible with Ionic Liquid Pretreatment.

The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI, is a scientific partnership led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and including the Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. JBEI’s primary scientific mission is to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels.


To learn more about licensing a technology from LBNL see



See More Biofuels Technologies