Sept. 30, 2013
File another one under “what doesn’t kill us, makes us biofuel.” A team of scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has been tweaking the metabolic pathway of the notorious bacteria Escherichia coli to make it squeeze out gasoline. If you’re thinking that’s been done before, well, not exactly. While other researchers have been prodding the little germ to produce biofuel precursors, the KAIST team claims that this is the first time that biogasoline has been produced from a living organism.
The Road To Microbial Biofuel
E. coli is best known for its connection to serious and potentially deadly food poisoning, but there are many different strains. Most of them are harmless and it looks like some are downright helpful.
The connection between E. coli and biofuel first came to our attention back in 2008, when our sister site Gas2.org noted that the bacteria could help solve biofuel’s glycerine waste problem. Researchers found that they could make a high-value product, succinate, from glycerine by adding E. coli (succinate has numerous applications such as food and beverage flavorings, dyes, toiletries and medicinals).