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A research team from the University of Exeter, working with the support of Royal Dutch Shell, has developed a process that enables bacteria to produce diesel on demand. The diesel, produced by specially manufactured strands of the E. Coli bacteria, is almost identical to conventional diesel, meaning that it doesn’t need to be blended with other petroleum products, as is often the case with biofuels.
Another benefit of its similarity to traditional diesel is that it can be added to existing supplies, flowing through existing infrastructure, pipelines, tankers, and even engines do not need any modification.
Professor John Love from the University said that “producing a commercial biofuel that can be used without needing to modify vehicles has been the goal of this project from the outset.
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Replacing conventional diesel with a carbon neutral biofuel in commercial volumes would be a tremendous step towards meeting our target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Global demand for energy is rising and a fuel that is independent of both global oil price fluctuations and political instability is an increasingly attractive prospect.”
E. Coli bacteria naturally turns sugars into fat in order to build its cell membranes, and by altering this process slightly the bacteria produces synthetic fuel molecules. The process can be easily repeated in laboratories, but there still remain some problems that must be solved before large-scale production is possible.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com