Sunday, March 27, 2011

E. coli to N-Butanol

Scientists at UCLA are developing ways to produce N-Butanol for the bacteria Escherichia coli. N-Butanol is used as a "greener" substitute fuel for diesel and gasoline. For every Liter of culture medium 15-3 grams of N-Butanol was produced. The basic steps are converting aceytl-CoA to n-butanol. E. coli does not naturally produce N-Butanol, but after adding metabolic driving forces to the pathway the production increased tenfold. E. coli was used in this project because it is very easy to manipulate, and it will only produce what it is engineered to produce without any byproducts. Some companies have went so far as to take out the enzyme from the bacteria that produces n-butanol and inserted it into other microbes such as yeast. This makes it easier to grow on an industrial scale. The production of n-butanol is very limited.

The ultimate goal of the production of n-butanol is for a safer environment for everyone. "If microbes can be engineered to turn nearly every carbon atom they eat into recoverable fuel, they could help the world achieve a more carbon-nuetral transportation fuel that would reduce the pollution now contributing to global climate change" ( Reasearchers are very optimistic that they can boost the production of n-butanol two to three times what it is now, and have enough to justify scaling up to an industrial process. They are also trying to incorporate yeast into the process because it speeds up many chemicals.

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