Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

cashinmattress

Bacteria Churn Out First Ever Petrol-Like Biofuel

Recommended Posts

link

Unleaded, diesel or biofuel? This could become the choice at the pump now we can make biofuels that are identical to the petrol we put in our cars, planes and trucks.

Until now, biofuels have been made up of hydrocarbon chains of the wrong size and shape to be truly compatible with most modern engines – they'll work, but only inefficiently, and over time they will corrode the engine.

To be used as a mainstream alternative to fossil fuels – desirable because biofuels are carbon-neutral over their lifetime – engines would have to be redesigned, or an extra processing step employed to convert the fuel into a more usable form.

To try to bypass that, John Love from the University of Exeter in the UK and colleagues took genes from the camphor tree, soil bacteria and blue-green algae and spliced them into DNA from Escherichia coli bacteria. When the modified E. coli were fed glucose, the enzymes they produced converted the sugar into fatty acids and then turned these into hydrocarbons that were chemically and structurally identical to those found in commercial fuel.

"We are biologically producing the fuel that the oil industry makes and sells," says Love.

The team now needs to work out how to scale-up the project to mass-produce hydrocarbons.

The E. coli were fed on glucose made from plants, but Love reckons that if they were to scale-up, they could tweak the genes to produce enzymes that would allow the bacteria to feed on straw or animal manure. This would mean that land wouldn't be needed to grow the feedstock that would otherwise be used for food crops – one of the criticisms of biofuels.

Paul Freemont of Imperial College London describes the work as a "beautiful study". He says it illustrates the potential of using a similar approach for bio-manufacturing not only biofuels but other chemicals we currently source from petroleum, such as those used to make plastics, solvents or detergents.

The work was partly funded by energy company Shell's research arm.

Good job. I wonder where all the sugar is going to come from for the process though?

What is its BOE?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good job. I wonder where all the sugar is going to come from for the process though?

What is its BOE?

In theory you could add photosynthesis to the bacteria and develop something that turned CO2 directly into hydrocarbons using the sun (and water and a few minerals).

Place some very, very big tanks of these in the deserts and you have a continuous hydrocarbon stream, fully renewable and pollution free.

Might cost a bit, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These articles are always interesting to read, but really they're similar to Express headlines i.e. "Cure for cancer found". You see them and then hear nothing of them ever again.

There are too many assumptions about future progress to make this anything other than pie in the sky.

Just feeling cynical today.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are too many assumptions about future progress to make this anything other than pie in the sky.

Even if the science and engineering works and is proven to work, doing something a new way means new infrastructure and a new way of doing things. Therefore, it won't be until the old way becomes more expensive than the new way that the new way starts to take over.

The bottom line: a means of producing fully renewable biofuel at a comparable cost to oil-based transport fuel and without taking out agricultual land probably exists now. But it won't be scaled up to replace oil until the oil supply dwindles to the point at which we need to take action to avoid serious economic consequences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • 238 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.