US researchers are trying to engineer a strain of bacteria that could deliver biofuel.
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they are focusing on microbes from Rhodococcus bacteria — soil-dwelling microbes that eat a variety of toxic compounds.
They say that the bacteria are useful because they are hungry for a number of sugars and toxic compounds and produce lipids that can be converted to biodiesel.The bacteria is similar to the type that causes tuberculosis.
The aim of Professor Anthony Sinskey's team is to make an organism that produces biofuel, which can use a variety of fuel sources.
They have created a strain of the bacteria that can eat a mix of two types of glucose and xylose, and have also engineered strains that can feed on glycerol, a waste product of biodiesel production.
Now that the basic chemistry and biology has been worked out, the researchers are focused on achieving the highest possible yields, which they'll be working on for two or three more years, Bryan Nelson wrote on Clean Technica.
Two years ago a team of German scientists had said, "Plant biomass is an abundant and renewable source of energy-rich carbohydrates which can be efficiently converted by microbes into biofuels, of which, only bioethanol is produced on an industrial scale today. Biomethane is produced on a large scale, but is not yet utilised for transportation. Biobutanol is on the agenda of several companies and may be used in the near future as a supplement for gasoline, diesel and kerosene, as well as contributing to the partially biological production of butyl-t-butylether, BTBE as does bioethanol today with ETBE. Biohydrogen, biomethanol and microbially made biodiesel still require further development."