Print 11 comment(s) - last by JediJeb.. on Jan 8 at 10:02 PM

The algae created a chemical that can make plastics, fuels, paints, etc. without fossil fuels

A blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria has produced the largest amount of chemicals for fuels and plastics yet, moving the method closer to commercial development.

The study was conducted by University of California, Davis, researchers, which were led by Shota Atsumi. Atsumi is an assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis.

Currently, fossil fuels are used as raw materials in the chemical industry. But fossil fuels are problematic for the environment, and the U.S. Department of Energy is looking to grab industrial chemicals from biological processes instead. In fact, it wants 25 percent of industrial chemicals to come from biological processes by 2025.

This is where cyanobacteria comes in. The biological reactions create carbon-carbon bonds, which use carbon dioxide as a material for sunlight-powered reactions.

To get the exact reactions needed for the cyanobacteria to create chemicals, the researchers looked up enzymes that would give them their desired results and transplanted the DNA of these enzymes into the cells.

From there, they built a three-way pathway where the cyanobacteria can convert carbon dioxide into 2,3 butanediol. This chemical is capable of creating plastics, fuels, paints, etc.

After only three weeks, the cyanobacteria produced the highest amount of chemicals grown by cyanobacteria yet -- 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium.

Source: Eurekalert

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Also Nutritious!
By cochy on 1/8/2013 10:49:40 AM , Rating: 2
Also a great source for micro nutrients and protein. This algae has formed the bottom of the food chain for millions of years.

RE: Also Nutritious!
By ClownPuncher on 1/8/2013 1:23:49 PM , Rating: 3
You wouldn't really want to eat this particular type of it.

RE: Also Nutritious!
By Ringold on 1/8/2013 9:44:47 PM , Rating: 1
The bottom of the food chain is what my food eats.

Beef. Pork. Catfish. Etc.

I support good, quality food for them, too. Corn fed cattle tastes excellent!

RE: Also Nutritious!
By JediJeb on 1/8/2013 10:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
Join PETA..

People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.

Surely you didn't think I meant the other one :)

Good Science
By Ammohunt on 1/8/2013 1:44:07 PM , Rating: 2
if this can scale to the necessary size cheaply needed to be commercially viable this will be a huge step towards real carbon dioxide sequestration with the added benefit of being driven by market demand. Eventually perhaps we can eventually quit turning our food into fuel.

RE: Good Science
By dgingerich on 1/8/2013 1:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, well, they aren't doing such a good job of it right now.

2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium

At this rate, it would take a full warehouse of the stuff to provide enough plastic to cover the plastic containers from my frozen meals. Scale that up to the 300 million+ people in this country and it would take covering the country 2 miles deep in the stuff to provide us plastics. Scale that up for the world, and we'd all be 6 miles deep in the stuff.

RE: Good Science
By Ammohunt on 1/8/2013 2:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Sure its in its infancy its still right minded with a potential for net gain vs idiotic ethanol,wind or solar schemes that can't exist without subsidies in the total energy picture.

By rangerdavid on 1/8/2013 7:02:34 PM , Rating: 3
...and transplanted the DNA of these enzymes into the cells.

Enzymes do not have DNA. Enzymes are proteins. Genes, made of DNA, contain the instructions a cell may use to manufacture a protein.

Another error/correction
By rangerdavid on 1/8/2013 7:05:15 PM , Rating: 3
A blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria has produced

All blue-green algae is known as cyanobacteria, not just "A" blue-green algae. There is no blue-green algae not also referred to as cyanobacteria; the names are synonymous, though cyanobacteria is preferred.

By rangerdavid on 1/8/2013 7:21:20 PM , Rating: 3
From the original article (not this rehash):

After three weeks growth, the cyanobacteria yielded 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium

A liter of water weighs 1000 grams. Therefore it took 3 weeks to turn a "soup" of roughly 1000 grams of water, whatever nutrients the cyanobacteria need, and the millions of tiny cyanobacteria themselves into 1000 grams of this soup, plus 2.4 grams of proto-plastic.

That's not a lot: 1000 grams in, 3 weeks, 2.4 grams out. I'm not chemical engineer, but that kind of yield doesn't seem commercially viable.

If you had the volume of an Olympic swimming pool that grew the cyanobacteria as efficiently as this 1 liter bottle did (a daunting engineering challenge), this massive 2,500 cubic meters of solution, weighing 2.5 million kilograms, would yield 285 kilograms of proto-plastic a day. That's not a lot.

By Autolysis on 1/8/2013 8:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
"A blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria has"

Cyanobacteria are not algae, but a phylum(I believe) of bacterium. Hence the name: Cyano- "Cyan color" Bacteria "Derp"

If you call a prokaryote a eukaryote... You're gonna have a bad time.

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