The need for such progress is pressing. Currently, the ethanol industry
in booming thanks to it being a "low hanging fruit" in that it is
relatively easy to produce from a chemical standpoint. However, the
demand for sugar crops to make ethanol is driving
up food prices.
Meanwhile, faced with high gas prices at the pump, more and
more people are switching to ethanol. Those who don't are hit with both
high food prices and high gas prices. While long-term solutions like cellulosic
ethanol promise a possible eventual solution, there's no sign that they are
ready for the market.
LS9 looks to take advantage of this state of crisis and use it to leverage its
own unique solution. LS9 has created special genetically engineered yeast
Coli bacteria. These friendly microbes can take biowaste and
weeds (instead of sugar) and use "previously undiscovered metabolic
pathways" to convert the sugar components of cellulose into long chain
hydrocarbons, resembling crude oil.
Such hydrocarbons are advantageous over ethanol in that they pack a high energy
density at a low weight. They could also be used to make plastic or other
petroleum products and be refined using traditional techniques. The
process, according to LS9 is carbon neutral, minimizing its environmental
impact. And its energy efficient -- 65 percent less energy is required
than in standard commercial ethanol production.
The company is being extremely secretive about how it modified the microbes --
about the only details available are that it appears that the microorganisms
take fatty acids and break them down into hydrocarbons, which are then
excreted. From a chemistry standpoint, this likely involves either
breaking off the hydrocarbon chain of triglycerides from their glycol backbones
and then decarboxylating them, or cutting a hydrocarbon chain off at an
unsaturated carbon bond, effectively splitting the fatty acid chains in two.
If it can live up to its bold claims, the biggest challenge LS9 faces is
scaling its top-secret formula up to an industrial production level. They
current have several reactors, the largest of which can make 1,000 liters of
fuel. However to satisfy the millions of oil barrel demand, this would
need to expand incredibly.
Whether LS9 can scale its product and keep costs down will likely make or break
it. It faces tough competition from the fuel
cell industry and microbial
hydrogen. However, even if it can't find a home in the biofuel
production business, it may still hold significant potential for relatively
uncharted bioplastics market.
quote: They current have several reactors, the largest of which can make 1,000 liters of fuel.
quote: more like XXX quote: Kinda like prison sex without lube?I know last time I filled up the gas tank, it felt as if I had been bent over.
quote: Kinda like prison sex without lube?I know last time I filled up the gas tank, it felt as if I had been bent over.
quote: the article reads like they didn't make some kind of genetic monster out of the e.coli, fortunately for us.
quote: 1,000 liters of fuel... per what? Day? Week? A unit of time would help a lot to put this into perspective.
quote: However, the demand for sugar crops to make ethanol is driving up food prices.
quote: Farmers have migrated en masse to corn production, lowering production for other crops.
quote: Finally, since corn is used as feedstock for farm animals, the price increases there translates directly to higher meat prices.
quote: Mother nature: last year we had sever drought across the Midwest. This year we have torrential rains and flooding. Fires all across Florida and California last year severely damaged key crops.
quote: Fuel prices: From farm equipment to transportation trucks and from processing plants to supermarket distribution facilities fuel is killing.
quote: Wages and workers: A new story every day on illegal immigrants being pulled out of food processing facilities. Employers facing big fines. No other choice but to hire legal workers that are federally mandated at a wage far in excess of what these companies were paying illegal aliens.
quote: (ie. gas goes up 50% and gas costs account for 10% of food prices, then the increase in food prices will be .5*.1=.05 or 5%).
quote: These types of events happen every single year. I lived in MN during the flooding. It's not that the flooding only happens occasionally, it's that it only occasionally floods really bad . Whether it's drought/flooding/bugs/fire/whatever, it happens every single year, so how can you say it's having a significant impact all of a sudden.
quote: Gas prices have gone up over %100 in the past two years. Lets plug those numbers into your overly simplified and naive equation. (1*.1=.10 or 10%) Well looky there!!! Even someone as thick as you can prove yourself wrong.
quote: where I clearly acknowledge there are other reasons when I state "alternate factors that regularly slightly change the price of food".
quote: And yes, like I said, I lived in MN during the flooding back in '99-'00, so I know EXACTLY what happens and the consequences of it.
quote: Lets take Florida for example. Summer of Katrina. Orange Juice and other fruit crops decimated. OJ prices double. If a single state such as Florida can lose a portion of its crops and detrimentally affect the entire industry when hurricanes are a normal factor there how can you be so completely naive and stupid not to think a flood that encompasses just about every state between Iowa and Illinois not to be a contributing factor.
quote: Meanwhile, faced with high gas prices at the pump, more and more people are switching to ethanol. Those who don't are hit with both high food prices and high gas prices.
quote: Assuming gas is $4.00 a gallon, E85 would have to be $2.80 a gallon to break even on fuel cost (assuming the accuracy of the 30% figure).
quote: big oil gets tax discounts.
quote: I have a tough time believing that customers will be receptive of a product like this, despite the fact that it is entirely synthetic simply because of all of the FUD that's out there surrounding petroleum fuels.
quote: These friendly microbes can take biowaste and weeds