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Published on April 25th, 2013 | by Christopher DeMorro


Tree Genes, Soil, and E. Coli Combine To Create Gas-Like Biofuel

e-coliWe all know that oil burned in vehicles is a major contributor to global climate change, but it is also an incredible fuel, holding a tremendous amount of potential energy in little space. But what if we could grow a fuel with the equivalent energy capacity? A breakthrough in biofuels utilizing DNA harvested from trees, special soil, and the E. coli bacteria claims to have developed a fuel chemically identical to petrol.

John Love of the University of Exeter took genes from the camphor tree, soil bacteria, and blue-green algae and spliced it with DNA from E. coli. He then fed this modified bacteria glucose,which produced hydrocarbons chemically and structurally similar to the fuel sold in gas pumps. This process could one day be scaled to use leftover straw or animal manure, allowing us to grow a fuel that will work in today’s automobiles.

If we could eliminate the costly and environmentally destructive practice of drilling for oil, that would go a long way towards reigning in global emissions and preserving natural habitats. Of course that doesn’t resolve the issue of auto emissions itself.

But if researchers were able to shift their resources towards producing more and more efficient internal combustion engines, maybe one day we could use a renewable gas without the guilt or glut of emissions. The real question comes down to price. If you had your choice between cheaper petrol or a more-expensive but cleaner biofuel, how much more would you be willing to pay for a clear conscience?

Source: New Scientist

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Bruce Miller

    Essentially Solar? So many steps to get the final result, then to burn it in a 22% efficent low compreassion spark engine?With enormous transmission losses huge rotating masses? Watch as China has already made Hydrogen gas from the sulfur-iodine process then to methane and finally an alcohol liquid fuel – both, for naught ! Fact is Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Thorium LFTR styled fissioning to Electric, stored in nano carbon and or graphine super capacitors or better, D.C. pulse switched by computer contoller, and applied at higher volatages to electric hub drives, at much higher efficiencies is the way to go? Even higher loss chemical, Li batteries with internal resistance losses still very much higher efficiencies? Israel’s Aluminium pallet, Li battery system? Still high efficiencies? Anaerobic sewage humanure and manure both produces methane , a gas as useful and very similar ot propane and Top Soil building Fertilizer slurries? A complete Solar Energy cycle? Yields food, fuel and fertilizer? Not better?

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