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 | | 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 ")

Gene-Edited Muscle Dogs From China
'Its skull was improbably high-domed and its eyes, deep-set, were disturbingly uncanine.' - John Brunner, 1975.

Korean Lab Ready To Clone Your Dog
Man's best friend. Man's best friend. Man's best friend.

Synthetic Coral To Clean The Seas?
'Numberless capillaries arranged in a belt around the smart coral reef...'- Neal Stephenson, 1995.

'Cortical Modem' Latest On DARPA's Wishlist
'...inside his skull... is a little cylinder, that neuronic receptor-transmitter.'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1938.



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

ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."

Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'

Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'

Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'

Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'

Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'

Police Use Predictive Maps ala 'Minority Report' Routinely
'...the data-receptors, and the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'

Tesla Autopilot Road Trip 2995 Miles, 57 Hours
'The beautiful old car cruised ... under the guidance of its automatic controls...'

The 'Marching Mountains' Of Pluto
Calling Captain Future!

Graphene Thermopile May Grant Predator Heat Vision To Humans
'What the hell are you?'

BitDrones Flying Microbots Model Programmable Matter
'... as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.'

Starship Turbolift Elevators Coming From ThyssenKrupp AG
Your sideways elevator is getting closer to your floor.

LineFORM MIT's Shape-Changing Interface
'For an interval, the device struggled with itself...'

LM3D Swim First 3D-Printed Production Car
'Almost as good as the original it was printed from…'

Protopiper Lets You Sketch Full-Size Objects In Real Space
'Plastic comes out of the end of the drawing arm and hardens...'

AI Trainers: Assisting Artificial Intelligences
'[Ava] wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.