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Engineering Biofuels from Photosynthetic Bacteria

Argonne National Laboratory

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<em>Schematic of the overall approach including the invented method for production of co-factors and anchors as biofuel precursors.</em>
Schematic of the overall approach including the invented method for production of co-factors and anchors as biofuel precursors.

Technology Marketing Summary

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created a method to produce biofuels from agricultural feedstocks. The method combines both engineered and natural photosynthetic materials to generate the fuel, which can be used directly or mixed with other fuels without further refining. This method may provide a means to affordably and efficiently produce biofuels that will reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.

Description

Rising energy costs, supply uncertainties and environmental concerns threaten the security of the United States. Scientists seek to produce fuel from renewable energy sources to help alleviate these concerns. To date, however, many factors (including cost, ease of production and compatibility issues) present obstacles to significant breakthroughs in this field.

A research team at Argonne National Laboratory has devised a method for producing biofuels that overcomes many of the traditional challenges. The method uses agricultural materials not already earmarked for other uses (such as foodstuffs or livestock feed), and combines both engineered and natural photosynthetic mechanisms to generate the fuel. Because photosynthetic bacteria readily lend themselves to genetic modification, scientists are able to alter their makeup to engineer the excess production of these feedstocks and create fuel.

Using this method, scientists identify photosynthetic co-factors and their anchors in the bacteria, and then modify the bacteria to increase production of the anchors. After a biomass of the bacteria is accumulated in a growth medium, the anchors are harvested. Scientists are also able to use an enzyme to cleave anchoring domains from molecules of photosynthetic bacteria. The new method produces a biofuel with moieties of as many as 5 to 30 carbons in length, generated from interruptions of biosynthetic pathways of photosynthetic bacteria.

Benefits

The unique attributes of photosynthetic bacteria are key to its benefits. The bacteria are easily modified to generate substantial yields of a raw material suitable for use as a biofuel. The material can be produced with or without fermentation or distillation. The fuel can be used directly or mixed with other fuels without further refining. In addition, 30 to 70 percent of the fuel’s waste can be repurposed to create other fuel sources.

Applications and Industries

?   Fuel for motor vehicles of all kinds, used by industry and the public; and

?   Fuel for other machinery currently powered by gasoline.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Application 20110302830
Application
20110302830
ENGINEERED PHOTOSYNTHETIC BACTERIA, METHOD OF MANUFACTURE OF BIOFUELS
The invention provides for a novel type of biofuel; a method for cleaving anchors from photosynthetic organisms; and a method for producing biofuels using photosynthetic organisms, the method comprising identifying photosynthesis co-factors and their anchors in the organisms; modifying the organisms to increase production of the anchors; accumulating biomass of the organisms in growth media; and harvesting the anchors.
06/13/2011
Filed
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
IN-09-001PrototypeAvailable02/11/201302/11/2013

Contact ANL About This Technology

To: Elizabeth Jordan<partners@anl.gov>