Feeds

Boffins beget bacterial biofuel bonanza

E coli put to less evil use

The next step in data security

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). ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.