Scientists from Rice University engineer E. coli that may help in production of biofuel

Researchers from Rice University develops a process as part of a $6.6-million project supported by the USDA that aims to produce renewable biodiesel, animal, feed, biopower, and bio-lubricants from lignocellulosic biomass.

The bioengineers from the university made use of a special E. coli to produce fatty acids from some hyrdrolysates. The team is already able to get roughly 80% to 90% fatty acid yield from the model sugars and hopefully even improve this in the coming years. Adding a few more percent to the yield may not sound much but it is very significant when you are talking about millions of tons a year.

The projected conducted at Rice University is just one of the USDA-supported scientific projects.THese projects are focused on coming up with infrastructure-compatible fuels for the transportation industry. Aside from coming up with diesel-like blends from sugars, all you can really look into are fatty acids.

The scientists are looking into how they can make the E. coli be more efficient in the production of fatty acids and at the same time work into building strains that can help in higher yield production of biofuels.

The team looked into different strains of E. coli and combined their best qualities for the best possibile yield.

Since the kick off of the research, the bioengineers were able to up their production from 0.4g for every liter to about 14g/liter.

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