In Australia, World Wide Carbon Credits Limited announced today that it has successfully lodged final patent applications over a gene that encodes an enzyme capable of producing a class of hydrocarbons known as triterpenoids, including di-hydro squalene, a hydrocarbon that is compatible with existing infrastructure including oil refineries. The research led by Professor Andy Ball, of Flinders University.
“The organism used to extract this gene is not at present economically significant,” said WWDC’s Dr. Steven Hensen. “By isolating this gene and inserting it into an alternative organism we have paved the way to substantially reduce the cost of producing oil from algae.”
“The team will now focus on manipulating the gene in Botryococcus Braunii in order to control production of hydrocarbons,” Hensen added. “Currently Race B algae produces oil when it is starved of light, carbon dioxide or nutrients but under these conditions it reproduces at a slower rate. Our focus is now on further gene and pathway analysis to establish optimal environmentally safe conditions for maximum growth whilst still producing large quantities of high-grade oil.”
More background on the story from the Digest