Biofuels Rutgers University researchers are developing biofuel from e coli bacteria

Published on September 4th, 2010 | by Tina Casey

2

Killer Bacteria Could Breathe New Life into Biofuel Production

September 4th, 2010 by  

Rutgers University researchers are developing biofuel from e coli bacteriaPut this one in the category of every cloud has a silver lining: E. coli, the bacteria notorious for contaminating food products from lettuce to  ground beef, could also play a key role in developing the next generation of biofuels. A team of scientists from Rutgers University is working with computer modeling to tweak the pesky little bug into overproduce fatty acids, which can then be processed into biodiesel.

[social_buttons]

If the research is successful, chalk up another win for producing biofuels from sustainable, non-food sources that can be grown without competing for land with food crops.  The growing list includes weedy plants, woody plants, algae and various microorganisms.

Biofuel from E. Coli

E. coli is short for Escherichia coli, which is a rod-shaped bacteria. Some strains are harmful but others are responsible for serious food poisoning. The Rutgers team focused on E. coli because a considerable platform of knowledge has grown up around the bacteria over the past 60 years of lab study, rather than having to start from scratch. E. coli produce fatty acids, which share many characteristics with fuel molecules.  Thanks to computer modeling, the team has been able to examine the effect of modifications on entire sections of genome, rather than changing individual genes. The next step, of course, is to develop new strains of E. coli based on the models.

Biofuels and Transportation

In just the past two years, attention has shifted rapidly out of food-sourced biofuels and into a wide variety of feedstocks. Unlike food crops and fossil fuels, which typically must be hauled over long distances to refineries and then to their point of use, the many new options in biofuels mean that more communities, businesses and utilities can source their energy closer to home – in some cases, new biofuels could be as close as the neighborhood sewage treatment plant.

Image: E. coli by Mattosaurus on wikimedia commons. 
 
Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
 
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

 

Tags: , , ,


About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Brian Leyde

    First off Ecoli are not killer bacteria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escherichia_coli. Some strains cause problems but most of them sit harmlessly in your intestines and help digest food.

    Second they are not Photosynthetic and they don’t eat cellulose. This means you have to put food in to get them to make the biofuels. This might still work out well (as with some ethanol production) but it is really more of a bio tech demonstration.

    Most of the people reading this blog are probably regulars so you don’t need to draw them in with silly headlines.

    • Tina Casey

      To Brian: Thank you for raising a point that I neglected (which is, what would be the food source for E. coli that are use to produce biofuel). As to your other point, I stand by my silly headline. I had a bit of fun writing it. Lighten up!

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

    cost-of-solar-down
  • Search the IM Network


Shares