back to article E. coli turns seaweed into ethanol

A group of scientists from Berkeley has used an engineered form of the E. coli bacterium to turn sugars in seaweed into ethanol. The breakthrough is attractive because if it could be commercialised, it would allow biofuels to be created without displacing crops or forests. According to the report published in Science, the …

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  1. Why Not?
    Pint

    So lets get this straight

    ecoli + seaweed= ethanol

    ethanol + worms = wriggly longevity

    hurrah happy worms

    1. Arctic fox
      Pint

      Interestingly enough they appear to get something like the strength of a best bitter........

      .............from this process.

      "........a consolidated process, achieving a titer of 4.7% volume/volume...........". The link to the abstract is below, access to the paper requires payment.

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6066/308

  2. Robin Szemeti
    Mushroom

    So what happened?

    Well the e-coli got out into the marine ecosystem and basically disgested all the seaweed it could find.

    That sounds bad.

    Yeah, that was bad enough, it reoved a valauble food source, killing off a lot of the larger fish and marine mammals.

    But the smaller stuff survived right?

    Well, no .. although the smaller stuff was nto dependent on seaweed directly, and was not attacked by the e-coli ... unfortunately it was unable to stand the high levels of water-borne ethanol ...

    So the seas died.

    Umm ...

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      On the other hand, the seas would be a gigantic dirty martini. Add a few million olives and, hey presto, you can party like it's the end of the world.

    2. Fibbles
      FAIL

      Step 1: Harvest the seaweed.

      Step 2: Apply E.coli

      Is it just me or is the intelligence level of the Reg readership plummeting rapidly?

      1. LaeMing
        Happy

        Re: intelligence level of the Reg readership

        We all got hold of some of that e-coli and one small enema later are guarenteed high-blood alcohol for the rest of our lives!

        1. Arctic fox
          Joke

          @LaeMing......And just think what a hit it will be with the younger managers in Japan........

          ............when out with their boss on one of those obligatory late evenings at the sushi bar. No more humungous bills because of having to keep him happy for hours with his favourite imported scotch. Just spike his first drink, keep him on the seaweed starter and he'll be happily legless all evening.

      2. dogged
        WTF?

        @Fibbles - Precisely

        what the fuck is wrong with some people? A carbon-neutral save-the-planet fuel tech comes along and they have to prophesy doom anyway. It's like the _want_ the planet to be buggered and no amount of human ingenuity will convince them otherwise.

        Is it some sort of Gaianist cult thing?

        1. Andy Watt
          FAIL

          Nuclear power plans have leakage of radioactive material. What do you think will happen to the runoff from the plant? How will they decide to treat the liquid left in the tanks (apart from taking off the ethanol)?

          You don't need to be some crackpot Gaianist to try to look through the process, apply a little backward-looking logic and see that industrial processes for a lot of products have accidentally released stuff into the environment which had negative impacts.

          Get a perspective check and stop being so bloody high-handed. Jeez!

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Boffin

            @Andy Watt

            You make a good point about what to do with the liquid left from fermentation. Might I suggest that this would make an ideal feedstock for organic fertilisers. Given that extraction of ethanol will necessarily be by distillation, you would end up with a large amount of cooked-down seaweed extract, which is generally considered to be a very good fertiliser and soil conditioner, due to the abundance of trace elements such as iodine.

            Of course, allowing this to 'run-off' into the sea would probably cause exactly the same issues that we have from run-off of industrially produced fertilisers, such as algal bloom. The use of an organically bound fertiliser such as this on farmland might conceivably even reduce the runoff associated with traditional chemical fertilisers, particularly phosphates and nitrates.

            I think maybe you overstate the problem of e Coli running off into the sea. We already pump lots of it into coastal waters in sewerage and it doesn't cause much of a problem. e. Coli can't survive for very long at salt concentrations above about 5% (the ocean is generally above 30% salt accoridng to Wikipedia). Bacterial run-off might cause a problem in fresh water. Again, I'd be more worried about bacteria in farm-run-offs such as slurry from cattle etc. These may cause problems, although usually the associated problems of over-fertilisation and eutrophication from the nitrates and phosphates in such run-off is a well known and larger problem.

            So yes, there is something to say for 'getting a perspective check' and not 'being so bloody high-handed', but there is also a lot to be said for bothering to understand the science involved, and the relative risks, before going off on alarmist rants.

      3. Robin Szemeti
        Mushroom

        errm

        because whilst I believe in our ability to stop highly modified e-coli escaping out of a test tube and wrecking the place .. I do not believe we will do so well when the process is tried on an industrial scale.

        Don't forget, they have had plastic-munching bacteria available for over a decade that could munch our polythene waste down no problem .. except no one think we would be able to convice them to only munch the stuff we no longer needed.

        So sure, call me a doom-sayer ... but don't come crying to me when it all goes badly wrong.

        1. cphi
          Black Helicopters

          turns *dead* seaweed into ethanol

          I suspect the seaweed is mulched down first into nothing but a soup of smashed up dead cells.

          I doubt the bacteria would have much success with living seaweed.

      4. fixit_f
        Thumb Up

        Step 3 = PROFIT!!

      5. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Step 3.

        then wonder "where the fuck all the fish have gone".

        Theres no such thing as a free sushi.

    3. Caltharian

      i do assume that the seaweed would be harvested and fed to the e-coli at an onshore processing plant. Or is that too sensible in this day and age?

      1. Hayden Clark Silver badge
        Boffin

        Harvesting is expensive

        The problem with any harvesting process is that it usually consumes energy. This is what knackers most biofuel processes - the diesel used by the harvesting machinery emits so much carbon that the net saving to the planet is zilch.

        The only way that a water-bourne biomass reactor process could work is if the plant matter can be persuaded to "flow" into the processing and reactor machinery. It would also be advantageous if the plant matter would not need much mechanical intervention before being brewed.

        This kind of flow-through process means that there's a high chance that the waste would simply out-flow... into the sea. Better make sure the eColi will be thoroughly dead before opening the sluice-gates!

        1. Eddy Ito

          Would it be too much to ask if we could get it to run on milfoil? Since we already do quite a bit of harvesting that stuff just to get rid of it, we might get a trifecta of cleaner lakes, biofuel and, if it isn't too much to ask, a tasty beverage.

          1. mamsey
            Paris Hilton

            MILFOIL

            now that just got me thinking...

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Boffin

      Given that e. Coli, and bacteria in general are very good at horizontal gene transfer, and that the genes involved came from marine bacteria, it seems entirely that e. Coli could obtain the gene necessary to digest alginate naturally. The fact that e. Coli with this gene is not found in nature implies that it conveys no survival advantage, otherwise the seas would be full of alignate digesting bacteria.

      Add to this the fact that seaweeds are members of teh plant kingdom, and have rigid cell walls which bacteria such as e. Coli have great difficulty in penetrating, precisely because they contain lots of things that would be otherwise very attractive to bacteria, I think you might have overstated the hazard somewhat.

  3. itzman
    Pirate

    Biofuel be damned

    It will be the vodka of the club circuit before you can say 'sea kale'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Kale ale

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What percentage ABV does it reach?

    Are we going to see seaweed vodka on the shelves?

  5. skeptical i
    Thumb Up

    Does this trick work on algae? Might solve some "algae bloom" problems.

    Give folks an incentive to harvest it for biofuel, and clean up some waterways at the same time.

    1. 0_Flybert_0
      Boffin

      yes and no on algae

      seaweed is algae .. so yes ..

      however there are 7 distinct genera of seaweed with 100s of species, so I doubt the particular e.coli would work on all seaweed

      the number of algal species is unknown, at least 10,000s , including Cyanobacteria, until recently considered an algae that is the cause of many "algae blooms" ..

      unlikely this e.coli bacterium acts on Cyanobacteria "algae" ..

      so probably no , or not effective on most other algal species

      1. skeptical i

        Hmm, too bad, but thanks for the clarification. :)

        n/p

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So now you can power your car with poop or pee?

    Does the fuel line run from the driver's seat to the engine?

    1. Ru
      Facepalm

      You have no idea what the article was about, do you?

      Engineered bacterium can break down the principle sugar of which seaweed is formed. Are you seaweed? Does your digestive tract secrete kelp? Then you may be in luck.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You do know...

        ...that people eat seaweed for nutrition, right?

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Life is so great through my rose coloured glasses!

    Sure it may take a thousand years of solar energy hitting a rainforest of one acre size to capture the energy required to power my motor car for 2 minutes down the road but this sounds great! Lets just side step the small land masses and small visible forest surface areas and just harvest the worlds largest ecosystem, forget all the co-dependent life that needs it out there and that seaseed will only be produced and found in a small area of that and we can power say a few small cities for a few months then wonder why the ocean ecosystem is shorting out and discover how closely linked marine cycles affect the above water bio systems...

    five stars groovy! lets do it!

    1. Maty
      Facepalm

      what? no seriously, what?

      'Sure it may take a thousand years of solar energy hitting a rainforest of one acre size to capture the energy required to power my motor car for 2 minutes down the road.'

      A rain forest gets about 438 kilowatt hours per square foot of sunlight - that's per foot, not per acre - and that's per year - not per millennium. Gasoline packs about 33.5 kilowatt hours per gallon. Whatever are you are driving?

      I mean, really. Go on and tell us how to run the ecosystem, please do. Just don't let facts get in your way.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Sir

        OP - Surely you don't think they would rely on naturally occurring seaweed do you?

        They would farm it you plankton.

    2. amanfromearth
      Trollface

      You are awarded the Worst Troll Of The Week award.

      (so far, and it's only monday)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one....

    ...welcome our soon to be; sea weed based, alcoholic, sludge monsters!

  10. Daniel Bower
    Joke

    The end of tounge twisters as we know them?

    Would all this extra alcohol sloshing around in the sea mean this mean that:

    She Shaw Shea Shells on the Shea Shore (hiccup)

    ??

    1. Ru
      Headmaster

      I'm sorry, I don't have a 'tounge'

      I'm not sure how one would go about twisting one, either.

  11. Alan Bourke
    Pint

    Vibrio splendidus?

    Sounds like an ancient Roman sex toy.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK

    So very rough calcs are: Area the size of Wales will produce well below 700 thousand barrels per day (bpd) BP oil stats give approx 1.6 million bpd for UK alone. Also what is the price per barrel of this stuff wrt energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)? 3% of the world's oceans for 60 Billion gallons, around 1.5 billion barrels per year, per day??? Humans consume 80+ mbpd oil consumption alone. If per year then 1/2 of the oceans will need to be used to produce approx 1/3 of the 'oil replacement'.

    Me thinks best to look at Liquid Flouride Thorium - move away from carbon!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Area the size of Wales will produce well below 700 thousand barrels per day

      looks like we'll have to flood Scotland too!

      1. Tel Starr
        Pint

        I'm not sure providing the Welsh with that much alcoholic Lava Bread is a good idea.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why are you talking AREA?

      Surely you must talk VOLUME. Did you take into account how deep the seaweed can be - or assumed it is just what covers the surface area?

      Not saying your stats are wrong - but I would redo with volume.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    great research

    much more useful than "why does toast land butter side down".

  14. jake Silver badge

    Not sure I like this idea ...

    So instead of getting the farts, I get drunk?

    Epazote seems to stop the farts ... how do I control my own internal alcohol production if this bug makes it out into the wild?

  15. Graham Bartlett

    Tequila!

    Ethanol, worms, salt... Job done!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think we're all missing the main point here...

    New Reg unit alert!

    "They calculate that a commercial plant could produce 19,000 liters per hectare annually". What on earth is a liter Richard? Even Australians spell that one correctly! And how do you pronounce it? Sounds like "lighter"?

    Proposed definition of the new unit:

    1 liter = The volume of American (or cut-n-pasting Australian :-) that displaces 1kg mass of water when fully submerged for 10 mins? (NB. Potentially gratutous introduction of time dimension to unit definition.)

    I'll get my coat. It's the grubby green coloUred one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speling

      In an attempt to get there before anyone else does.... It should have been "gratuitous". Sorry for the unnecessary error.

    2. Heironymous Coward
      Headmaster

      What on earth is a "gratutous", Mr. Coward? Or do you mean "gratuitous". If you're going to be a pendantic grammer / spelling nazi, at least get your own spelling right...

      Oh, sorry, I forgot, it's Monday again. Never mind...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        *cough* grammar *cough*

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          <AC clears throat politely>

          Without wishing to pick too many nits, I think it's spelled "pedantic".

          <AC clears throat politely>

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Pirate

            Ah yes.

            Muphry's* law in action.

            * No, Not Murphy's.

  17. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    TANSTAAFL

    If you take energy out of a system (or even an eco-system), it is no longer there for what it is currently used for.

    The seaweed will currently be passing the energy it gathers up the food hierarchy in one way or another (what eats it either when it is alive or even when it is dead). Removing a large amount of energy by harvesting it is likely to affect filter feeders and sea-born bacteria and krill. Remove these, and you eventually take out things like crabs, prawns and other invertebrates, and then all of the things that prey on those, for example cod and the other large fish (remember, even large fish are very small when they first hatch, and will live on the even smaller things). Also, the seaweed will provide a habitat for animals that may not actually eat the seaweed, and harvesting will damage or destroy this.

    Of course, this is no different from any other intensive agriculture (aquaculture?), but when we started cutting down the forests, planting crops and breeding sheep and cows on the land, we did not have environmentalists telling us how much the land would change!

  18. Fishy

    CO2

    Pump CO2 in and the seaweed will grow quicker too.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      I suspect the rate at which you can burn seaweed is far less than that of alcohol/petrol etc.

      Therefore you _may_ release more energy, but if it doesn't burn quickly enough you aren't going to have any compression and so no power.

  20. Rhiakath Flanders
    Thumb Down

    bye bye, sea life

    so, basically, instead of burning forests, etc etc, we collect all the sea-weed (aka fish-food) and run our fancy cars etc on that ethanol. Great. Remember that the next time you try to fish something, and get absolutely nothing....

    Mark my words. NOTHING that uses non-renovable source of energy is correct. If it exists in our ecosystem, it's because it has a purpose. By tampering with it, you're tampering with whoever (or whatever) needs it.

    Our best option remains "nature power". (wind, solar, heat, etc). You won't hurt anything or anyone by having a solar panel (as far as i can remember, at least)

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
      Joke

      'Our best option remains "nature power". (wind, solar, heat etc).'

      Unless of course you actually want to power anything consistently, regardless of weather, time of day etc.

    2. Ru
      Meh

      Seaweed is fishfood?

      Well, in the same way that, say, wheat is 'animal food'. Leaving aside your slightly shallow understanding of what eats what, and your slightly curious notion that algae are not renewable...

      This plan does not involve harvesting existing seaweed beds. I'll be that would be expensive and inconvenient. Instead, new beds will need to be grown, possibly on some sort of artifical substrate for ease of future harvesting. During their growth phase, the seaweed beds will form their own ecosystem. If the harvesting is nondestructive (eg, only some of the fronds are removed, rather than the whole organism being ripped up bodily) then this will form a valuable persistent environment.

      More interestingly, you could grow this sort of stuff in deeper water on floating farm beds; you'll get more convenient accessibility, and no issues with tide or waves. It'll be a new environmental niche that won't interfere with coastal seaweed beds.

      Realistic concerns would be about chemical treatment of the farms; you didn't raise that at all. Incidentally, where do you think solar panels come from? Dirty, environmentally destructive mining and financial support for ethetically flexible regimes is one side effect. Solar panels don't last forever; you'll have to replace em in due course. You prefer electric cars to ethanol driven cars? Well, same problems again. Do you think the lithium fairies are going to magically fix our battery issues too?

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @Ru

        I like the idea of floating farms, although the energy that falls on the surface of the deep oceans is used by free-floating plankton at the base of the food hierarchy, and also produces the warm water and water vapour that conditions the weather systems. Capture the energy, cool the oceans, and starve the animals in the deep.

        As people like Robert Heinlein and others before him said, There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!

        1. Ru

          "free-floating plankton", etc

          That's not an unreasonable point. However, I'd contend that the required surface area (which was quoted at 3% of the world's *coastal* waters) is absolutely miniscule in the context of the total area of deep ocean. Shading enough of the ocean to kill off that much phytoplankton seems like an absolutely epic engineering project; it would be easier to build photovoltaic farms in the sahara and set up HVDC lines to Europe, or build orbital solar power systems with microwave receivers on earth, etc.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Sir

            "You may possibly claim that the heavy fissionable elements are actually left over from the Big-Bang or supernovae, I suppose. If we ever get hydrogen fusion reactors, that would be the first energy source that has nothing to do with the Sun."

            You could at least try and be consistent. According to your ultimate logic, anything that we build on Earth comes from the Sun. True, but not really helpful.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              @Runcible - OK, obvious contradiction.

              Comes of going back after writing a post and adding to it and clicking submit without re-reading it properly. Yes, heavy elements were pre-solar, but pretty much everything else is some form of solar energy. Still not helpful for the discussion, though.

              My apologies.

    3. Richard Ball

      But this is a solar-powered system.

      It is a way of using the surface of the sea as farmland for producing biomass.

      Some carbon (and other stuff) takes a temporary role in the storage mechanism, and after you've used up the ethanol you made, the world is more or less where it was before you farmed the seaweed. (how more or less is obviously an important and complex thing)

      Certainly worth considering if it means we don't muck about making fuel on the proper farmland that we need for making food.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @Richard Ball

        All energy on Earth is in some way directly or indirectly solar powered. All wind, wave, bio, hydro, ground heat, and fossil fuel comes from the Sun (some may argue that wave power may be driven by tidal forces, but the energy derived is effectively potential energy left over from when the moon was captured, as a result of gravity maintained by the gravity wells in the solar system, the largest of which is the Sun's)

        Even nuclear and geothermal power relies on processes long ago that were caused by the Sun (accretion during the formation of the solar system).

        You may possibly claim that the heavy fissionable elements are actually left over from the Big-Bang or supernovae, I suppose. If we ever get hydrogen fusion reactors, that would be the first energy source that has nothing to do with the Sun.

        Anyway, it's all Entropy.

        1. Ru
          Paris Hilton

          "Anyway, it's all Entropy"

          Whilst fundamentally true, it is manifestly unhelpful. Things are categorised for good reason, and there are accepted meanings for 'renewable' and 'solar' which we may as well adhere to. It would be super if you didn't muddy the waters further.

          Also, I believe heavy elements are apparently formed in supernovae and were not themselves formed in the big bang, which would presumably have only resulted in light elements... maybe even only hydrogen. But I Am Not An Astrophysicist, etc.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            @Ru

            I though nucleosynthesys during the Big-Bang went further. Wikipedia suggests that it went no further than beryllium. I was obviously wrong. OK, just supernovae.

            I Am (obviously) Not An Astrophysicist either!

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Pathetic fallacy

      "If it exists in our ecosystem, it's because it has a purpose."

      Nothing in the ecosystem has a purpose unless and until we assign it one. "Purpose" is an intentional attribute; it's a concept that a thinking being ascribes to a perception. Purposes don't exist in nature.

      We often use "purpose" as a gloss for "function" or "operation" (eg "the purpose of the mitochondria..."), but that's not the sense in which you're using it there. Claiming a biological entity has a purpose, a role it's meant to fulfill, is the pathetic fallacy - imposing human motivation on the natural world.

      Everything in the ecosystem gets *used*, eventually, either for the potential energy in its chemical bonds, or as raw material for forming new complex structures (which in turn will eventually be broken down again for that bound energy, ad infinitum). But that's not the same as having a purpose.

      Any human action has some effect on the ecosystem. Mostly these are negligible, and even when they aren't, they generally affect a relatively small segment - a few species, for example. This is often regrettable for any number of reasons, such as reducing aspects of biodiversity that we find pleasant, or that might be useful to us; or, depending on your philosophical stance, simply for ethical reasons. But the biosphere is very robust (which is not really surprising, given the thermodynamics and chemical makeup of the planet's surface). So there's little to be gained by making some sweeping generalization of widespread doom, because it's implausible. What's more likely is that something specific and important to a significant group of people will be affected - say, shellfish food production.

  21. John Angelico
    Thumb Up

    But would be a good idea to see...

    ...if it scales (yeah, so punish me!) to commercial viability, without causing unmanageable side-effects (aka unintended consequences).

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    errm

    "A group of scientists from Berkeley has used an engineered form of the E. coli bacterium to turn sugars in seaweed into ethanol."

    "A group of scientists from Berkeley HAVE used an engineered form of the E. coli bacterium to turn sugars in seaweed into ethanol."

    There you go.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Stick to what you know

      "A group of scientists from Berkeley has used..."

      Does anything about the first character of this extract strike you? In case you're too thick to count up to one, I refer to the indefinite article "A". It's a while since I had to learn English, but at the time "A" was used with singular nouns, such as, er, "group". The third person singular present indicative of "to have" is "has".

      But carry on making your verbs agree with the nearest noun, rather than the subject, if you like. Just don't bore us with your ignorance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        oops

        Fuck me, I'm glad I never tried to point that one out :)

  23. John Latham

    Why use productive coastal waters?

    If the stats are taken at face value (33 barrels of ethanol per day per sq km)...

    Arabian Desert is 2.3 million sq km. So that's 75m barrels of ethanol per day. Total middle eastern oil production is less than 25m barrels of oil per day.

    Step 1. Flood Arabian Desert with seawater.

    ...

    Step 3. Profit.

    I'm sure this fails the "how hard can it be?" test.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Boffin

      Where does the Arabian Desert stand

      In relation to sea-level?

      I suspect there might be a certain energy input involved here in raising a large amount of sea water, stopping ti draining away, and replenishing it. Remember one cubic metre of water weighs one metric tonne, and that is before you go and dissolve a whole load of salts in it, so to flood the said desert to a depth of one meter, you would need to displace 2.3 trillion tonnes of water. Good luck with that...

  24. Dr Dan Holdsworth
    IT Angle

    bioethanol is nothing new at all

    Twenty years ago, I went for an interview with a biotech start-up called Agrol. They were planning something like this, only digesting cellulose farm waste (straw, sugarbeet pulp etc) to make ethanol. Their system was fairly simple: huge anaerobic digestion tank, running sealed inside a vacuum, with a cooled condenser leading off. Turns out that bacteria are poisoned by ethanol; if you run at very reduced pressure then the ethanol evaporates at room temperature and re-condenses in the condenser.

    The bacteria weren't even genetically engineered like these E. coli were, just selected wild-type strains. The process worked, too, but the problem then and now was twofold. Firstly, ethanol produced from fossil fuels is dirt-cheap, and secondly ethanol isn't very energy-dense so isn't a vehicle fuel of choice.

    Quite frankly, sorting out catalytic polymerisation of methane to longer-chain alkanes would make much more sense; that process would yield hydrogen and either propane, butane or petrol fuel (or even diesel if you went that far). Since due to shale fracking we now have a vast amount of methane to play with, catalytic polymerisation looks like a good way to go and cheaper than this puff piece.

    1. Ru
      Meh

      Dude, nothing is ever new

      Apart from the bit where they've managed to make use of a new feedstock, which is a good thing given that cellulose based bioethanol production seems to be a bit of an environmental non-started.

      Ethanol isn't the most useful product right now, bioethanol doubly so... but it could easily be so in the future. Y'know, in the event of fossil fuel supplies becoming uneconomic if you can imagine such a thing.

      I'm sure under your one-world-order scientific research would be heavily regimented and controlled and any project such as this that didn't forward your civilisation in the way you have planned would be ruthlessly culled. I doubt I'm alone in feeling glad that we don't live in such a world.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. GuestResponse
    Alert

    Why not bio-produced Gasoline?

    ------------

    L-Phenylalanine is also synthetically produced using e.coli.

    "L-Phenylalanine is produced for medical, feed, and nutritional applications, such as Aspartame, in large quantities by utilizing the bacterium Escherichia coli, which naturally produces aromatic amino acids like phenylalanine."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenylalanine#Commercial_synthesis

    ------------

    L-Phenylalanine is used to produce Salicylic acid.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylic_acid#Production

    ---------------

    Salicylic acid is used to produce Pimelic acid.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pimelic_acid

    ---------------

    Pimelic acid is used to produce Cyclohexane

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclohexane#History

    -------------------

    Cyclohexane is a key ingredient of the mixture that is Gasoline.

    -----------------------

    So, indirectly, E.Coli can be used to synthesize Cyclohexane in large quantities.

    So, if you look at the Gasoline FAQ here:

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/autos/gasoline-faq/part1/

    and look for:

    "What are the hydrocarbons in Gasoline?"

    -----------------

    Cyclohexane is a key ingredient, and especially in the higher priced gasolines.

    now, if you go down that list, there might be a way to bio-synthesize almost all of the ingredients in the mixture. Therefore, there is a probably a way to bio-synthesize each component and then mix them together after they have all been synthesized. Ethanol makes alot of sense to people because it _is_ so simple, but if someone could do what I am describing here and put a reasonable price tag on it, then maybe we could drive down the price of gasoline significantly and put lots of oil drillers into a different career.

    ..Not that I hate oil drillers, but potential job losses may provide economic or popular resistance to the idea of bio-synthesized unleaded Gasoline. However, I do hate high gas prices; and at this point, am wondering if we are being purposely ripped-off in the matter, by people who could make bio-gasoline a reality, if only they would keep making the money that they currently make. But it's also possible that the "ripped-off" part is actually not the case.

    Doesn't it seem like we're always working on a new way to make ethanol, or use alternative fuels, but no-one is ever working on getting rid of a need for gasoline that comes from crude oil? Why is that? Did the oil companies introduce Ethanol as a red-herring? You can work ALL DAY LONG on the ethanol problem and NEVER develop a solution the ACTUAL problem which is that we don't want the crude-oil-based GASOLINE at all, we want a bio-produced Gasoline.

    We want an entirely bio-produced Gasoline and we want it for a fraction of the price of Gasoline that has been refined from crude oil.

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