December 10, 2008
Engineered E. coli promise biofuel
Genetically modify the common E. coli
bacteria to produce energy-dense alcohols and you have a potential
route to inexpensive biofuels.
The genetically modified bacteria overproduce an amino acid
precursor, then convert the precursor into carbon-rich alcohols. The
alcohols, which aren't otherwise produced by living organisms, are
more energy dense than ethanol; they contain from five to eight carbon
atoms per molecule, depending on the alcohol, compared to ethanol's
two. Gasoline typically has about eight carbon atoms per molecule.
The alcohols are also easier to separate from water than ethanol,
making them potentially easier to mass-produce.
Expanding Metabolism for Biosynthesis of Nonnatural Alcohols
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online
December 8, 2008
and Systems Biology Laboratory, University of California, Los
David S. Eisenberg
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