Fuel From Sunlight Comes From Engineered Bacteria

Fuel From Sunlight Comes From Engineered Bacteria

By Shinji Tutoru

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA DAVIS, CALIFORNIA, USA. Right now, the chemical industry is aiming to replace fossil fuels as raw materials. To do so, chemical precursors need to be grown for fuels and plastics. That is why a group of chemists has just engineered blue-green algae to do this task. This is because there is a very high need for other sources of chemical feedstocks aside from petroleum and natural gas.

The U.S. Department of Energy is also aiming to have at least 1/4 of industrial chemicals come from of biological means by the year 2025. For more than 3 billion years, the sunlight has been a very good source of energy. Cyanobacteria is also known as blue-green bacteria. It gets its energy through photosynthesis with the help of the sunlight. That means it is a very excellent way to get clean energy.

Shota Atsumi is the lead author of the study. He is working with Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei Corp. to introduce new chemical pathways into the cyanobacteria. They are aiming to make the blue-green bacteria to produce huge amounts of chemicals to be converted to chemical feedstocks.

Eventually, the researchers were able to find a way to allow cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into butanediol. Butanediol is the type of chemical which may be used to make plastics, solvents, paint and fuels. It has been tested for three weeks and during that time period, the cyanobacteria was able to make 2.4 grams of butanediol per liter of growth medium. It has a great potential for commercial development since it has shown the highest productivity rate ever achieved for any cyanobacteria-grown chemicals.

Invention Cyanobacteria
Organization University of California Davis, California, USA
Researcher Shota Atsumi & Team
Field(s) Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Green Energy, Clean Technology, Green Technology, Renewable Energy, Alternative Energy
Further Information Science Daily

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