We've written about the progress of biofuels company LS9 and their quest to produce a renewable diesel fuel from engineered E.coli for the past three years. Here's the most recent update: The South San Francisco-based company says it has made a "major breakthrough" in getting its microbes to create fuel from cellulosic biomass in a one-step process:The work has been outlined in a new paper in the journal Nature and on Nature News.
The researchers basically amplified and then short-circuited E. coli's internal machinery for producing large fatty-acid molecules, enabling them to convert precursor molecules directly into fuels and other chemicals. The team then inserted genes from other bacteria to produce enzymes able to break down hemicellulose. In all, the authors report more than a dozen genetic modifications.
One-Step Processing Hoped to Drive Cellulosic Biofuel Costs Down
As for the implications of the one-step process, known as consolidated bio-processing, Biofuels Digest calls it nothing less than the "holy grail of biofuels" and something which is critical to drive the cost of cellulosic biofuels down.
It's worth noting that the researchers have used this one-step process to create a drop-in replacement for fossil fuel-based diesel, meaning, unlike biodiesel, it can be distributed through the same supply chain as conventional diesel fuel.
Read more: Microbial production of fatty-acid-derived fuels and chemicals from plant biomass [subscription or pay-per-read required]
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