Bioengeered Bacteria Produces Renewable Fuel to Rival Rocket FuelJuly 13, 2022
By accessing the genome sequences of 7,762 bacterial strains, scientists were able to genetically engineer soil bacteria to produce polycyclopropanated fatty acids (POP-FAs) that are energy dense and can be converted into renewable fuel to support shipping, long-haul transport, aviation, and rocketry.
After studying the chemical diversity of the bacterial genomes, the scientists identified and re-purposed naturally occurring cyclopropanated molecules by focusing on a set of candidate iterative polyketide synthases that can possibly produce POP-FAs. They then investigated the structure of the molecules to figure out how to increase POP-FA production by 22-fold. This led to the successful production of POP-FA methyl esters with candidates that can have net heating values of more than 50 MJ/L.
The study demonstrated that the production of superior hydrocarbon fuels to current high energy fossil fuels is possible using biological production. Further research can help produce alternatives for modes of transportation in which renewable fuels are of much interest.
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