Escherichia coli commonly known as E.Coli is a bacterium that grows inside human and animal intestines. Some strains of E.Coli are harmless. Others, however, can cause serious food poisoning for humans. They responsible for product recalls due to food contamination. It has been recently discovered that E.coli can also be used for a helpful purpose. Korean scientists showed they can produce gasoline with the help of this bacterium. Of course, Escherichia coli is genetically modified for this purpose. In April, British researchers managed to use E.coli to create a type of oil that is very similar to diesel.
The team from Daejon, however, managed to reprogram E.Coli in order to obtain gasoline. Prof. Lee Sang-yup from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology pointed out that gasoline is much more expensive than diesel. It would be an important achievement if the biofuel becomes available to the general public. The breakthrough is important because oil no longer needs processing in order to become gasoline. The biomass is converted directly. Moreover, the generated gasoline can be easily used in any car. It has the exact components and chemical properties as conventional petrol.
In order to create gasoline, the bacteria were fed glucose. The enzymes they produced turned the sugar, first in fatty acids and then in hydrocarbons. The latter were identical to those found in commercial fuel.
Unfortunately, the near future will not see the addition of the biofuel to gas stations. At the moment the team manages to create only a few drops of gasoline per hour. Only 580 mg of gasoline can be made from a liter of glucose culture. The researchers are now working on steadily increasing the amount of gasoline they are able to produce.
Biofuel made from E.coli is certainly a greener alternative to fossil fuel. Would you use this type of fuel for your car?
( Source and Images: WSJ )
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