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Old 12-21-2008, 01:10 PM   #1
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Default Forget Ethanol, UCLA Looks At Bacteria For Fuel


E. coli is a common bacteria that thrives naturally in warm places, such as the human gut. Although it usually cannot cause sickness, it is easy to test for and is used as an indicator for sewage spills or polluted beaches.

A strain of bacteria usually associated with polluted beaches has been genetically modified by UCLA scientists, and the new bug has the potential of making jet fuel, gasoline and other petroleum products that deliver much more energy.

E. coli, the humble bug found in human digestive tracts, can be modified so that each cell can generate "long-chain alcohol," an advance that could reduce global warming and increase fuel efficiency by using the bacteria to excrete a better form of fuel, UCLA announced.

Scientists at UCLA have for the first time produced E. coli that can generate alcohol with five carbon atoms per molecule, instead of the normal two or three. Alcohol molecules with eight carbon atoms may also be possible, they report in this month's edition of the scientific journal Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.

Lead scientist James Liao, at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, says the E. coli will be able to create biofuels that reduce pollution and deliver much-more energy per molecule than traditional biofuels like Ethanol.

"We wanted to create larger, longer-chain molecules because they contain more energy," the team wrote in the science journal. "This is significant in the production of gasoline and even jet fuel."

The new E. Coli bugs would be unleashed on organic material, much like Ethanol is produced from corn. But Ethanol has only two carbon atoms per molecule, and the greater the number of carbon atoms from the bacteria will increase the density of the biofuel, the UCLA team said.

Ketchun Zang, a co-author of the study, said E. coli was chosen for modification because "the genetic system is well known, it grows quickly and we can engineer it very easily.

"But this technique can actually be used on many different organisms, opening the door to vast possibilities in the realm of polymer (manufacturing), as well as drug manufacturing."

E. coli is a common bacteria that thrives naturally in warm places, such as the human gut. Although it usually cannot cause sickness, it is easy to test for and is used as an indicator for sewage spills or polluted beaches.
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:54 PM   #2
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i read about this. we wont get it thought, cause the bacteria fuel industry cant pay off politicians enough.
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Old 12-21-2008, 05:16 PM   #3
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I think the issue is scalability. Oil is sucked out of the ground in enormous quantities.
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:06 AM   #4
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Cells primarily grow. They also produce by-products of that growth, which is the process that is modifed to make things like ethanol or higher fuels. The problem is that the growth of the cells and production of these byproducts requires ENERGY. You need to feed these cells something that you have a LOT of because the byproduct accounts for at most about 70% of the energy put into the system. In other words, this is an energy "loser". If you have scrap materials, like corn husks, you can feed that to the cells rather than just let it go to waste, but the quantity of corn husks, etc., will never exceed the worlds oil demand.

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Old 12-22-2008, 03:14 AM   #5
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^^ That is true, we would have to put in energy in order to obtain the desired byproduct. I am not sure in the end how usable this method is. However, even with its high replication rate, im not sure if it can be produced in quantities high enough to have any real chance at becoming viable.

I think the real technology is hydrogen. I think the best thing they can do is improve the effiency of engines which are only about 15-20% efficient and also make hybrids the norm. After that they will then gradually move into hydrogen cells once the technology comes down in price.
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:05 AM   #6
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feed it poo?
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