Feeds

Boffins beget bacterial biofuel bonanza

E coli put to less evil use

High performance access to file storage

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). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.