Researchers re-engineering bacteria to make higher-value chemicals from seawater-based bacteria

October 20, 2019 |

In the UK, researchers from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and supported by the Office of Naval Research Global (ONR), will reengineer Halomonas, a bacteria species, which grows in seawater, provides a viable “microbial chassis” to create different types of high value chemical compounds which could be renewable alternatives to crude oil. Dr. Benjamin Harvey and his team of researchers at the world-leading Naval research facilities in China Lake, California, U.S., have pioneered this exciting work on converting biological precursors to relevant jet fuels. Following on from this research, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology director Nigel Scrutton explained, “Effective biofuels strategies require the economic production of fuels derived from a robust microbial host on a very large scale—usually cultivated on renewable waste biomass or industrial waste streams—but also with minimal downstream processing and avoids use of fresh water.

With Halomonas these requirements can be met, so minimizing capital and operational costs in the production of these next generation biofuels.” This research could be groundbreaking news for the wider biofuels industry. “In the case of the jet fuel intermediates we are bioproducing, they are chemically identical to petrochemical derived molecules, and will be able to ‘drop-in’ to processes developed at China Lake,” added Dr. Kirk Malone, director of commercialization at The University of Manchester’s MIB. Dr. Malone said unlike the biofuels we know today, which are dependent on agricultural land to produce corn and sugar beets, bioproduction in seawater would avoid ethical concerns of ‘fuel vs food.” Moreover, the final products would be identical to today’s fuels, allowing automobiles to maintain the same high performance standards without having to redesign the engine to consume lower quality fuels.


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Category: Research

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