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

quote:
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.




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