Bacteria Now Make Biofuel Like Oil

A UK researcher has altered E. coli bacteria, forcing them to produce hydrocarbons that are chemically the same as commercial grade fuel.


(Scanning electron micrograph of E. coli bacteria)

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 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.

Science fiction fans have been waiting patiently for over sixty years for scientists to implement this idea. In his 1950 novel Needle, Hal Clement wrote about culture tanks that would accomplish this feat:

"They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them; germs that eat pretty near anything, and produce oil as a waste product. That's the purpose of the whole business. We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top, and every so often clean the sludge out of the bottom -- that's a nasty job."
(Read more about Hal Clement's culture tank)

Via New Scientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/25/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

No Cages In Future Zoos Is Zootopia?
'The park... twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe.'

Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy
'April 5, 1977; that was the night the waveries came.'- Frederic Brown, 1945.

Roboroach Now Shipping!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.'- Thomas Easton, 1990.

Engineered Bacteria Produces Gasoline
'They call 'em culture tanks... [they] produce oil as a waste product.'- Hal Clement, 1950.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

The Living Tree House
'There were trees comprised of a central columnar trunk and four vast leaves...'

Flying Defibrillator Ambulance Drone
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'

High Fidelity Produces More Expressive Avatars!
'They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other...'

Physicists Build Repulsor / Tractor Beam
'Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel...'

Will You Upload Your Mind Anytime Soon?
And if so, how long will the copy last?

Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Amazing ARES Augmented Reality Sandbox
'First he showed him where the input and output of his brand-new kingdom were, and how to program wars...'

'3D Light Sculpture' Projected Directly Onto Retina
'...projects directly on the retina of the eye…'

3D Printer Vending Machine Dispenses Dreams
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Why Not Nurse Grandma With A Robot?
'She's made of a combination of springs, levers, acoustic instruments...'

Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'

Should Robots Have Civil Rights?
'I've seen things... you people wouldn't believe...'

Robert Heinlein, Your Self-Driving Car Is Almost Ready!
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
'Little spurts of red-orange flame from the reaction pistol marked his companion's trail...'

Scheherazade, An Open Story Generator
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

Sample The In Vitro Meat Cookbook
'I grabbed two Syntho-Steaks out of the freezer...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.