Feeds

Boffins beget bacterial biofuel bonanza

E coli put to less evil use

Security for virtualized datacentres

Californian boffins have developed a way of producing more powerful biofuels, using genetically modified food-poisoning bacteria.

James Liao, biochemical engineering prof at UCLA, led the team which managed to produce long-chain alcohols using the Escherichia coli bacterium, aka E coli, better known for its severe effects when found in meat pies.

Liao and his crew tinkered with the food-poisoning bacteria's genes, inserting alternatives from "a cheese-making bacterium, and another, from a type of yeast often used in baking and brewing," it says here. Rather than illness, cheese or beer, the resulting micro-Frankensteins produced long-chain alcohols.

Long-chain alcohols are better than ordinary biofuels such as ethanol and methanol because they have greater energy density, containing more carbon atoms to be burned off as CO2. They are also easier to separate from water.

"Previously, we were able to synthesize long-chain alcohols containing five carbon atoms," says Liao.

"We stopped at five carbons at the time because that was what could be naturally achieved... We showed we are not limited by what nature creates. From an energy standpoint, we wanted to create larger, longer-chain molecules because they contain more energy. This is significant in the production of gasoline and even jet fuel."

Liao's genetically redesigned biotoxic cheesy superyeast can apparently crank out eight-carbon alcohol without any bother.

The paper with full details of the research is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It can be read online here (not free). ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.