Blue-Green Algae Holds Promise for Commercially-Made Fuels, Plastics
January 8, 2013 10:23 AM
The algae created a chemical that can make plastics, fuels, paints, etc. without fossil fuels
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
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.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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