Fuel from Soil Bacteria

Scientists have engineered 
bacteria to use CO2 to make 
fossil-fuel alternatives. (Picture 
from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/)
Efforts in the search for alternative energy to replace fossil fuels take a step forward after a biology researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found bacteria producing alcohol for fuel.

Genetic engineering allows researchers to teach the bacteria that convert exhaust gases into isobutanol.

Microbe is a soil bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha. These organisms naturally stop diverting energy needed to multiply into complex carbon compounds. However, this process should be accompanied by the provision of pressure on the bacteria.

MIT biologist, Christopher Brigham, came up with a new trick. He taught these bacteria to produce fuel without the need for special treatment. Changes in the nature of these bacteria through genetic engineering.

"As a result, bacteria can produce isobutanol types of alcohol," said Brigham as reported by MIT page, mid-August 2012. "This compound is a substitute for gasoline."
A bioengineered version of the Ralstonia eutropha bacteria can create fuel to replace gasoline. (Picture from: http://www.livescience.com/)
This soil bacteria consume nitrate or phosphate. But, when these nutrients are not available, the bacteria will turn into carbon hoarders. The most widely available source of carbon is carbon dioxide that humans exhale when breathing or removed vehicle engine. By bacteria, the carbon deposited in the form of polymer plastic similar nature.

"Genetic engineering makes the bacteria to store carbon in the form of fuel, not plastic polymers," he said.

Additional modifications could allow the bacteria to use carbon from sources such as agricultural field waste or city waste. The research received about $1.8 million from Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), the U.S. Department of Energy's research arm for high-risk, high-reward projects, from July 2010 until July 2013.

The MIT research is detailed in the August issue of the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. *** [LIVESCIENCE | ANTON WILLIAM | KORAN TEMPO 3978]
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