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E. Coli Strain Generates Pure BioDiesel Just Like the Real Thing

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E. Coli Could Generate Biodiesel to Completely Replace Petro-Diesel
E. Coli Could Generate Biodiesel to Completely Replace Petro-Diesel

Biodiesel is becoming more popular as a fuel because it is carbon neutral and fairly easy to manufacture.

Unfortunately, because it doesn’t contain the same amount of energy as petro-diesel, biodiesel is usually mixed with petro-diesel to improve vehicle performance. Users of the blended fuel aren’t carbon-neutral, but can cut their carbon emissions by whatever percentage of biodiesel is in the blend. Of course, if you don’t mind a slight loss in performance, you can find pure biodiesel to refuel and be truly carbon-neutral.

On the other hand, researchers are constantly looking for new ways to produce biodiesel that is closer to petro-diesel in chemistry and energy content. Performance could be maintained and petro-diesel completely eliminated. A lot of research has gone into strains of bacteria that can be tweaked to produce fuels or at least fuel precursors. Surprisingly enough, researchers in the Projects & Technology lab at Royal Dutch Shell [yes, that Shell] and University of Exeter have developed a new strain of E. Coli bacteria that generate synthetic diesel fuel.

“…by exploring this new method of creating biofuel, along with other intelligent technologies, we hope they [University of Exeter] could help us to meet the challenges of limiting the rise in carbon dioxide emissions while responding to the growing global requirement for transport fuel.” – Rob Lee, Shell Projects & Technology

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Kinda cool article, hooray for another biodiesel feedstock source! Except for the bad data on biodiesel. Pure biodiesel is carbon neutral, slightly less BTU’s per gallon than petrodiesel, but has a higher cetane value (@50 vs 40 for petrodiesel). Today’s biodiesel not only meets the performance of petrodiesel but in almost all cases exceeds not only performance and emissions, but also cost AND lubricity, adding years of life to a diesel engine at a net cost savings. The main reasons for blending biodiesel with petrodiesel are either for cold flow in cold climates, or for conformity with newer diesel exhaust systems which require a fuel be used that has a flashpoint the same as petrodiesel, biodiesel has a much higher flashpoint. Otherwise biodiesel is a superior fuel to petrodiesel in a standard diesel engine. Google it.

    • @Dehran Duckworth thanks for the info, and now i’m wondering which is correct! according to http://www.biofueltek.co.uk/wvo-bio-diese-additives/bio-diesel-vs-fossil-diesel.php, biodiesel has a lower cetane number and biodiesel vehicles generally have an 8-15% drop in performance. will do some reading and get back.
      cold weather flow performance yeah i see that, which a pretty good part of the country needs for part of the year. the e. coli-sourced biodiesel is apparently closer to petrodiesel than other biodiesels and probably won’t require any blending even for cold climates.

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