What according to you is the most important thing while producing lower-cost, renewable biofuels? The key factor certainly remains the amount of energy consumed to produce it. In case the fossil fuel requirement is high, then the whole act of benefiting the environment with renewable biofuels seem to go to waste. To solve this problem, an Arizona State University research team has developed a process that removes a key obstacle to producing inexpensive renewable biofuels by programming a photosynthetic microbe to self-destruct.
The blue-green alga,e better known as cyanobacteria, are easy to genetically manipulate and have a potentially higher yield than any plant crops that are presently used as transportation fuels, so this makes it a good source of renewable biofuels. Despite their convenient genetic manipulation and higher yield harvesting, the fats from the microbes required many cost-intensive processing steps. To find out a way of obtaining high fat cargo more easily, a research study was performed.
During the study, the researchers placed a suite of genes into the photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria to release their precious, high fat cargo more conveniently. The genes were taken from a mortal bacterial enemy, called a bacteriaphage, which infect the bacteria, eventually killing the microbes by causing them to burst like a balloon. The scientists swapped parts from bacteriaphages that infect E. coli and salmonella, simply added nickel to the growth media, where the inserted genes produced enzymes that slowly dissolved the cyanobacteria membranes from within.
This one-of-a-kind research was funded by Science Foundation Arizona, while for the next phase the U.S. Department of Energy has come forward. The DOE has offered a grant of $5.2 million to a team led by researcher Wim Vermaas, Curtiss, Liu and others from the ASU biofuel team.