Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Company Engineers E. Coli to Make Fuel

Researchers at biotech company LS9, Inc., have engineered E. coli bacteria to produce a substance very similar to diesel fuel after consuming pretty much any agricultural product. The bacteria—a harmless strain of E. coli—can also be engineered to produce gasoline or jet fuel, the researchers say.

The fact that the bacteria can use any type of plant material is promising, as they will be able to produce fuel from waste materials, not just foor products. And because the bacteria are producing finished fuel products—instead of, say, ethanol—they can use the existing distribution system, such as pipelines and tankers. Ethanol cannot use oil pipelines because it will corrode them.

The company is working through issues of scaling up the process now, but hopes to have large-scale commercial production within three to four years. They do not, however, expect their product to do anything more than supplement oil as an energy source, not replace it.

Best of all was the title for this article on Lab Makes Renewable Diesel Fuel From E. Coli Poop. That made me laugh.

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