Skip to content

Bacteria that produce biofuels

Science is working hard to get energy from bacteria, and the most successful projects do so using solar energy and genetic engineering. The objective is none other than to obtain less expensive energy for the pocket and the environment and, curling the loop, also to achieve that these microorganisms absorb greenhouse gases.

Some inventions have more credibility than others, but all of them allow us to keep hope alive for a better world, less dependent on fossil fuels . As the investigations progress and hopefully begin to be produced on a large scale within a few years, we can continue to follow their progress.

It may also interest you: Is biofuel a renewable energy?
  1. Superbug that turns CO2 into fuel
  2. Cyanobacteria that produce liquid energy
  3. Other projects
  4. Termite intestine

Superbug that turns CO2 into fuel

Scientists from Harvard University have created a system that produces liquid fuels from solar energy, specifically dividing water molecules and taking advantage of the activity of bacteria that inhale CO2 and feed on hydrogen.

Thanks to this, it is possible to convert solar energy into biomass with an efficiency of 5 percent, multiplying by ten the productivity reached by the fastest growing plants . An unprecedented performance, which is surprising and very promising.

Biofuel leader Daniel Nocera has designed this superbug after inventing a revolutionary artificial leaf five years ago that used energy from the sun to obtain hydrogen from water. Then, it served a genetically modified bacterium to convert CO2, the main gas responsible for climate change, into an alcohol from which it was then easy to obtain biofuel. Already in this invention, solar energy helped transform CO2 into liquid fuel, and now it surprises the world with a bacterium that converts sunlight so efficiently.

Although the results of his study have not yet been published (they will be published shortly in the journal Science), Nocera himself announced his progress at a conference at the Institute for Energy Policy in Chicago, United States.

The practical applications are potentially limitless, explains the expert. Above all, because the final product obtained from alcohol can be used directly, without the need for additional procedures.

“At this moment we are making isopropanol, isobutanol and isopentanol,” he said during his speech, “all of them are alcohols that come from hydrogen obtained from divided water, and from the inhalation of CO2 by the bacteria.

Although bacteria absorb CO2 from the air, the system cannot be considered a solution to combat global warming, he warns. The solution to excess emissions is in the use of renewable energy, and this can be considered a source of green energy, but not a carbon sink. Therefore, indirectly, it would help to keep greenhouse gas emissions at bay.

Cyanobacteria that produce liquid energy

Joule Unlimited, an American company that produces green energy from innovative technologies, located in Bedford, Massachusetts, claims to have designed microbes that require only sunlight and CO2 to produce hydrocarbons such as ethanol or diesel.

The company has obtained a patent for a genetically modified version of cyanobacteria, whose peculiarity is none other than converting CO2, polluted water and sunlight into a liquid hydrocarbon.

Also on this occasion biofuel is obtained from solar energy. By mixing cyanobacteria and enzymes, the production of hydrocarbons is achieved in a single stage, converting the captured light into “liquid energy”, either in the form of ethanol or diesel.

While there is great skepticism about this cutting-edge technology, especially since it has yet to demonstrate the performance of its large-scale proposal , from Joule Unlimited they do not hesitate to say that they are one year away from “revolutionizing the largest industry in the world which is that of oil and gas. ”

According to CEO Bill Sims Joule, if they are right, “there is no reason why this technology cannot change the world.” And, be that as it may, there is no doubt that from a utopian perspective it is priceless as a bet for the “energy independence” of the whole world, as well as for a greener planet.

Other projects

There are many other projects that have achieved success with the microbe energy binomial. For example, microbes can be trained to generate isobutanol, a fuel that can replace gasoline. At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), for example, they have made genetic modifications in microbes capable of digesting cellulose for the production of isobutanol.

Isobutanol can both be mixed with gasoline for use in the engines of any automobile powered by that energy source, and it can be substituted. As an advantage, in addition to its low cost, we can point out the fact that we do without raw materials that serve as food, which is a plus when it comes to guaranteeing food safety.

Termite intestine

The Terrabon company uses the MixAlco system to take advantage of waste and convert it into energy. As explained on their website, they obtain biomass through valuable chemicals that can be processed into biofuels.

The secret is none other, they explain, than a proprietary combination of unmodified microbes that digest waste found in very diverse natural habitats, such as cattle fermentation vats, termite gut or methane-producing swamps. In addition, they claim that they can produce energy from other residues such as forest biomass or inedible agricultural residues.

If you want to read more articles similar to Bacteria that produce biofuels , we recommend that you enter our Renewable Energies category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *