Alternative Fuels

Researchers engineer E. coli to make fuels

Posted on December 15, 2011

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have made new strides toward the development of advanced biofuels that can replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuels with a domestically-produced “green” alternative.

Researchers have engineered the first strains of Escherichia coli bacteria, commonly referred to as E. coli, that can digest switchgrass biomass and synthesize its sugars into all three of those transportation fuels. Moreover, the microbes are reportedly able to do this without any help from enzyme additives.

“This work shows that we can reduce one of the most expensive parts of the biofuel production process, the addition of enzymes to depolymerize cellulose and hemicellulose into fermentable sugars,” said Jay Keasling, CEO of JBEI and leader of this research. “This will enable us to reduce fuel production costs by consolidating two steps — depolymerizing cellulose and hemicellulose into sugars, and fermenting the sugars into fuels — into a single step or one pot operation.”

The JBEI researchers attribute the success of this work to the “unparalleled genetic and metabolic tractability” of E. coli. However, the researchers believe that the techniques used in this demonstration should also be adapted to other microbes, which officials say would open the door to the production of advanced biofuels from lignocellulosic feedstocks that are ecologically and economically appropriate to grow and harvest anywhere in the world.

For more information on the researchers’ work with E. coli, click here.

Related Topics: Alternative Fuels

Comments ( 0 )
More Stories

King Pin Pusher Set

OTC’s new 30-Ton King Pin Pusher Set is designed to assist technicians when changing king pins and brake anchor pins on heavy-duty vehicles.


A Shining Example of School Bus Pride

A recent visit to a Southern California school district revealed the pride that the transportation team takes in their work, their fleet, and their facility.


Navigation Device

The TomTom Bridge with GPSi software is designed to help streamline routing, scheduling vehicle maintenance, and other tasks.


Suspension Systems

CLASS suspension systems for buses are designed to provide a smoother and safer ride for passengers.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!