Co-cultured Synechococcus and Shewanella Produce Hydrocarbons without Cellulosic Feedstock
University of Minnesota
- Synthesizes long-chain hydrocarbons directly from sunlight, water, and CO2, without cellulosic feedstock, using co-cultured microbes
- Lower capital and operating expense.
- Higher energy content in resulting vehicle fuels compared to ethanol
- Minimal processing steps
- Funded through an ARPA-E grant
- Avoids reliance on large amounts of agricultural land and uses carbon dioxide as a feedstock
Dr. Larry Wackett, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Department of Biochemistry, BioTechnology Institute
With the push to develop renewable energy, Dr. Wackett has led the search for microbial enzymes that will synthesize fuels from biologically renewable sources. Because the most desirable components of petroleum are clean-burning hydrocarbons, Dr. Wackett is investigating the microbial biosynthesis of hydrocarbons from plant material through research funded by the Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) and a Discovery Grant for Biofuels from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Jeff Gralnick, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, BioTechnology Institute
Dr. Gralnick has extensively studied the physiology of Shewanella, a species of gram-negative bacteria found throughout the world in aquatic environments. By understanding the molecular mechanism that enables this species to respire a diversity of compounds - including insoluble minerals - he hopes to engineer strains that can generate power in microbial fuel cells or react against certain toxic metals in the environment. Dr. Gralnick’s Research Group strives to integrate both classical and modern molecular approaches in their research to understand how bacteria influence our planet.
A team of University of Minnesota researchers is proposing to create clean-burning liquid hydrocarbon fuels from renewable biological sources - in this case, two different types of bacteria cultured together.
Working in partnership with the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the researchers will use a photosynthetic bacteria developed by PNNL that can convert light and carbon dioxide to "feed" a hydrocarbon-producing Shewanella bacteria they are altering for scaled-up production. A latex biofilm developed at the University and produced by university start-up BioCee Inc. will provide the environment for growth of the bacteria. University specialists in chemical engineering will work on "cracking" the thick hydrocarbon output to produce fuel.
|Title and Abstract||
Production of organic compounds
The present invention provides methods for the production of hydrocarbons, particularly alkanes and alkenes, using biosynthetic routes, as well as genes and enzymes involved therein.
|Development Stage||Availability||Published||Last Updated|
|Development - Technology has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale. Research to improve OleA’s ability to take fatty acids and condense them into fuel precursors is being conducted.||Available - Licensee will receive rights to practice the intellectual property (patent application) for the purposes of developing and manufacturing a commercial product.||03/06/2012||03/06/2012|