KAIST team employs DNA engineering: Gasoline made from biomass

2013_10_biofuels
A fermentation system developed at KAIST is used to produce short-chain alkane for gasoline from genetically engineered microorganisms.
/ Courtesy of KAIST

A team of researchers has developed a technology to extract gasoline from microorganisms fed with sugar through DNA modification, the science ministry announced Monday. It is the world’s first such feat.

The research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) engineered the gene in E.coli responsible for fatty acid metabolism so as to enable them to produce short-chain alkanes, saturated hydrocarbons that are a component of gasoline.

The technology of producing short-chain alkanes is considered a meaningful breakthrough because it serves as a platform for alternatives to various petrochemical products including surfactants and lubricants. The discovery was published by Nature magazine early morning Monday in Korean time.

The KAIST team has so far succeeded in producing 580 milligrams of gasoline from one liter of glucose culture solution per hour. However, this is too small for the technology to draw commercial interest from the petrochemical industry.

For full article, see Korea Times.

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