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Bacteria brews biofuel with potential to replace high-energy rocket fuel

RATE THIS! +34
Posted in Science on 2nd Apr, 2014 02:00 AM by AlexMuller

Researchers have engineered a bacterium that could yield a new source of high-energy hydrocarbon fuel for rocketry and other aerospace uses. High-energy, hydrocarbon fuels such as JP-10 can be extracted from oil with more commonly used petroleum fuels, but supplies are limited and prices are high, approaching US$7 per liter.

 

That’s where the new bacterium, engineered by Georgia Tech scientists Stephen Sarria and Pamela Peralta-Yahya, could come in.

 
By introducing enzymes into the strain of E. coli bacterium a reaction is developed that yields pinene, a cyclic hydrocarbon related to isoprene, a major ingredient of pine resin and a vital precursor to a biofuel that offers an energy density comparable to JP-10.
 
The biofuel is then produced by "dimerising," or linking together, two molecules of pinene via chemical catalysis.
 
"We have made a sustainable precursor to a tactical fuel with a high energy density,” says Peralta-Yahya, an assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. “We are concentrating on making a ‘drop-in’ fuel that looks just like what is being produced from petroleum and can fit into existing distribution systems."

Tags: sciencebacteriageneticsfuelrocketaerospace

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-02
+2
This is an important progress in a big search for new sources of energy and fuels. This is a very active area of research and one of great importance. Good and promising work on this new bacteria that can produce fuel!
3 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-02
+3
This is an important area. While much research has gone into more efficient ways of producing ethanol and biodiesel fuels, comparatively little work has been done so far on replacements for high-energy fuels. - This is very much needed Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-02
+0
The most important question, of course, is what’s the cost? Can this halophyte biofuel be feasible? The good news that the expectation is that it really can Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-02
+2
Researchers also need to make this process cost effective. "If you are trying to make an alternative to gasoline, you are competing against less than $1 per liter. " That requires a long optimization process and they have quite a lot work ahead Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-04-02
+3
I noticed some other good projects on biofuels. Boeing revealed “the biggest breakthrough in biofuels ever”- this was very interesting because the biofuel comes from a type of plant that can grow in the desert, not taking up valuable arable land. Reply


 

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