Berkeley, California, USA — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 08 March 2011 – University of California chemists have engineered bacteria to churn out a petrol-like bio-fuel at about 10 times the rate of competing microbes “’ a breakthrough that could soon provide an affordable and ‘green’ transportation fuel.
The advance is reported in this week’s issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology by Michelle Chang, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley, graduate student Brooks Bond-Watts and recent UC Berkeley graduate Robert Bellerose.
“We are in a host that is easier to work with, and we have a chance to make it even better,” Chang said. “We are reaching yields where, if we could make two to three times more, we could probably start to think about designing an industrial process around it.”
Among the reasons for engineering microbes to make fuels is to avoid the toxic byproducts of conventional fossil fuel refining, and ultimately to replace fossil fuels with more environmentally friendly bio-fuels produced from plants.
“If microbes can be engineered to turn nearly every carbon atom they eat into recoverable fuel, they could help the world achieve a more carbon-neutral transportation fuel that would reduce the pollution now contributing to global climate change,” Chang added.