E. coli enzymes turned into biofuel identical to gasoline

Apr 25, 2013
E. coli enzymes turned into biofuel identical to gasoline

Biofuels aren't a new idea, with various types having been created over the years, none of which were quite the gasoline substitute we've hoped for. While biofuels are available, implementing them as standard fuel would require modified engines or a middle-man process that converts the biofuel into something more engine-friendly. That could be coming to an end soon, with a biofuel being created for the first time that is identical to gasoline.

The issue with current biofuels is that they are composed a hydrocarbon chains that differ from those of gasoline. Although most of them can still be used in modern engines, they won’t play well with the vehicle and will cause problems, such as poor gas mileage and eventually engine corrosion, resulting in car death or high repair bills. Such limitations have prevented us from producing and using biofuels as a green alternative.

The University of Exeter’s John Love didn’t accept this, and sought to create a biofuel that can be used in the place of gasoline, something he eventually succeeded at. His breakthrough was achieved by taking Escherichia coli bacteria, more commonly called E. coli, and splicing its DNA with genes from bacteria found in soil, camphor tree, and blue/green algae. He then provided the bacteria with sugar, resulting in enzymes.

The E. coli bacteria’s enzymes were then converted into fatty acids, and then the fatty acids were converted to hydrocarbons. What made this different than other projects of a similar nature, however, is that the resulting hydrocarbons are identical to the hydrocarbons found in gasoline. This is the first time such a result has happened, and has left the researcher and his team looking into a solution for mass-scale production of the biofuel.

[via New Scientist]

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