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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Epigenetic Memory's On/Off Switch Found
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' - Barbara Hambly, 1982.
Rabbit's Brain Cryogenically Frozen Successfully
'Even in the case of the most perfect freezing there is still some activity...' - Edward Page Mitchell, 1879.
Denisovans, Neandertals... And Us?
'But in far realms, among strange hominids, you couldn't shun each other, either.' - Larry Niven, 1996.
Gene-Edited Muscle Dogs From China
'Its skull was improbably high-domed and its eyes, deep-set, were disturbingly uncanine.' - John Brunner, 1975.
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.
Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...'
Xian'er Buddhist Monk Robot
'Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
AnBot Security Robot WILL Tase You, Bro
Michael Crichton right again.
Hover Camera - Unfold Drone, Shoot Selfie
'He set his camera to follow him...'
A Baker's Dozen Of Autonomous Car-Related Revolutions
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars.'
Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
'My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.'
Sophia, The Personable Robot From Hanson Robotics.
'The de luxe model... has fifty different facial expressions...'
Swimming, Slithering Snake Robot
John Connor, how do you feel about swimming snakes?
The First 'Drone Cafe' Started By Dutch Students
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'
Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...'
Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...'
Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.'
Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.'
iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...'
Ironing Robot May Fulfill Russian Science Fiction Dreams
Sometimes, the old inventions are the best.
Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories