Escherichia coli — Strain of E. coli, created with the help of genetic engineering, capable of converting sugar into fuel, composition similar to diesel…
If such a process is put on stream, such a synthetic fuel can be a good alternative to fossil fuel. The study, whose results were published in the journal PNAS, spent a synthetic biologist John Love (John Love) from the University of Exeter.
"We want to make sure that car manufacturers, sellers of fuel and the drivers did not even notice the difference between conventional gasoline and our new invention" — says Love. According to the plans of the European Union, by 2050, emissions of greenhouse gases must be reduced by 80%.
As a result, by 2020 at least 10% of the total fuel used should be make biofuels. However, to date most of the biodiesel and bioethanol are incompatible with modern engines.
The engine to function properly, you need a "cocktail" of 5-10% and 90-95% biofuel petrol. Team Lava has created a genetically modified E. coli, which, unlike other synthetic analogues, produce biofuels, which can be poured into the gas tank without mixing with any other type of fuel. The advantage of such an approach to the creation of biofuel in the fact that fuel suppliers will not have to change the existing infrastructure (supply and distribution).
Typically, E. coli produce absorb fats and sugar to form a cell membrane. According to a press release, that instead of fat microorganisms producing synthetic fuel molecules, scientists have created a special strain of E. coli.
In the course went technologies synthetic medicine. However, despite its obvious advantage over its competitors, the new strain may not have much success with the creators of substitute fuels. The effectiveness of the new production is still extremely low: a hundred liters of solution of the bacteria and sugar can give just one teaspoon of new biofuels.
"Before we move on to industrial production, we will need to increase the efficiency of the bacteria. We have in stock for three to five years to put the necessary experiments and understand, is it worth it "- says Love.
His team is also trying to figure out whether E. coli for efficient production instead of sugar to consume animal or human waste. The project is funded by a major manufacturer of gasoline and motor oil company Shell and the British Council research biology and biotechnology (BBSRC). Add that biofuel is considered safe for the environment because it produces so much carbon dioxide that the plants will be able to recycle.
But there are alternative views: environmental researcher Rob Bailey (Rob Bailey) believes that biofuels are causing the Earth's climate even more damage than fossil fuels, which include diesel (details in this PDF-document.)
The production of biofuels can not be considered a panacea for a modern economy, politics and ecology. Note that bacteria such as Escherichia coli are also natural pictures and, accordingly, may be in short supply.
Researchers have yet to solve a lot of issues related to the production of fuel from E. coli before starting to discuss the practical tests and further commercialization of the project.