A few weeks ago I wrote about a company using algae to produce what it calls "Green Crude", a fuel chemically identical to high-octane gasoline. The advantage of course is that such a fuel, in addition to being renewable, is that it could be used in existing vehicles and shipped through the existing fuel infrastructure without modifications. Similarly, a San-Francisco-based company is betting it's easier to create a fuel compatible with what we already have, rather than start afresh.
In the video clip above, CNN does as good a job as one can do in a two-minute clip at giving us a glimpse of new research by LS9 which has succeeded in using genetically-modified e.coli bacteria (a strain which is harmless, not the sickness inducing variety) to produce diesel fuel. By feeding these e.coli sugar, they secrete the fuel as waste.
Food Crops Not Used For Sugar
One thing the clip doesn't delve into is the source of the sugar being fed to the bacteria. However according to an article in The Times on the subject, LS9 has indicated that it is not interested in using corn or other food crops as the source of this sugar and instead will be using different types of agricultural or wood waste.
Again, Fuel Source is Only Part of the Problem
My long-standing reservations about not addressing the environmental problems of the civic infrastructure and cultural patterns of material consumption we've built up over the past 60 years aside, from a scientific standpoint this is certainly interesting. Just make sure you don't believe, as Fox News seems to, that this development will "solve the crisis" in a larger environmental sense.
via :: CNN and :: The Times Online
New Algae Biofuel from Sapphire Energy "Chemically Identical to Gasoline"
E. Coli: The Next Big Source of Hydrogen Fuel?
Genetically Engineered E.Coli Process to Generate Ethanol from Wood/Ag Waste by 2006