Biotech Updates

Engineered Bacteria Produce Biofuel Alternative for Rocket Fuel

April 2, 2014

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon from trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels such as JP-10, used in missiles and other aerospace applications.

The team of Georgia Tech graduate student Stephen Sarria and Professor Pamela Peralta-Yahya boosted pinene production six-fold from previous efforts by inserting enzymes from trees into the bacterium. High density fuels are needed in applications where minimizing fuel weight is important.

"We have made a sustainable precursor to a tactical fuel with a high energy density," said Peralta-Yahya. She added that they are now working on 'drop-in' fuel that looks like what is produced from petroleum and can fit into existing distribution systems.

For more details about this research, read the news release available at