Microbes Secreting Biodiesel.

     While reading scientific articles, I came across some concerning the production of genetically modified bacteria into biodiesel. Researchers are modfying E.coli bacteria by adding an enzyme called hemicellulase, which breaks down cellulosic feedstock into smaller sugar molecules. This new enzyme changed the production of sugars, normally used to make membranes, which are now channeled into making biodiesel instead. The first article at greentechmedia.com compared ethanol oil to modified bacteria oil, and they concluded that modified E.coli has an energy density closer to gasoline than ethanol. This being said, biodiesel produced from E.coli have “higher-chain alochols”, which is more efficent in gasoline than ethanol is. Another issue mentioned in this article, was the problem of corrosion of pipelines; ethanol corrode pipelines, due to water absorption, making it more difficult for the fuel to be stored and distributed, however the use of higher-chain alcohols, E.coli potentially can avoid this problem.

    Next article from CNN.com mentioned the production of E.coli and the benefits of using it in the future as a biodiesel source. It explains the process of E.coli consuming plant material, of any type of sugar, thus digesting the sugar and secreting diesel fuel. According to Robert McCormik, “Scalabilty is really a critical issue”. McCormik is the prinicipal engineer at the U.S. Department of Enery. McCormick mentions that this modified E.coli is great at producing diesel at a test tube level, but now needs to be produced in a much larger scale to have an impact on our petroleum imports. LS9, a renewable petroleum company, is also a big part of this article, adding to the benefits of using microbes as a source of biodiesel. LS9 believes that their product is more efficient because it does not have the cancer causing benezne, which is in other fossil fuels, and is hoping to be a large -scale production within  three or four years. In conclusion, this article acknowledged the positive aspects of using genetically modified microbes as a source of biodiesel and has potential to becoming something more than just made in test tubes.

   In comparison to both articles; they both mentioned the negative aspects of ethanol and how it corrodes pipelines, unlike the future microbe biodiesel. The CNN.com article stated the issue of “scalability” by producing enough biodiesel from microbes that can effect the oil economy as a whole, unlike the greentechmedia.com article, which did not mention any negative inputs concerning this idea.

Articles:http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/e-coli-bacteria-biofuels-savior-504/, http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/08/12/bug.diesel/index.html


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