News

Engineered bacteria show promise for sustainable biofuel industry

Engineered bacteria show promise for sustainable biofuel industry
Technology
Acetone, a volatile solvent used for everything from removing nail polish and cleaning textiles to manufacturing plastics, could get a sustainability boost from a new strain of bacteria engineered by a research team based in Japan.

advertisement

They published the details of the heat-loving, acetone-producing bacteria called Moorella thermoacetica on April 23 in AMB Express.

Acetone is typically produced through the widely used cumene method, which is cost-effective but not sustainable. The process, developed in 1942, involves converting two non-renewable resources into acetone and phenol, another chemical that helps manufacture a number of materials, including plastics.

More environmentally friendly options exist -- including gas fermentation, a bioprocess that converts carbon dioxide, monoxide and hydrogen into chemicals and fuels -- but they tend to be cumbersome and costly, according to Yutaka Nakashimada, professor in the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, Hiroshima University, who led the research. One of the major expenses is the downstream processing, which involves separating out the desired chemicals from the other materials.

"We thought the key is a simultaneous separation of the product from the ongoing fermentation," Nakashimada said. "Our choice was to produce volatile chemicals by using a group of bacteria thriving at high temperatures."

The bacteria, M. thermoacetica, eat the gaseous feedstocks of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and monoxide -- which can be procured from renewable resources -- to produce acetone. Since they grow at a temperature higher than the boiling point of acetone, the acetone produced is a gas that evaporates and can be distilled as the bacteria make it. It streamlines the traditional system into a simultaneous process.

"Our development of the engineered bacteria could pave the way for developing a consolidated process with simplified and cost-effective recovery via condensation following gas fermentation on a large scale suitable for industrial production," said paper co-first author Junya Kato, specially appointed assistant professor in the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, Hiroshima University.

To develop this productive bacteria strain, the researchers genetically engineered bacteria with modified metabolism processes.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide strains of bacteria that thrive at high temperatures for gas fermentation of acetone," Kato said. "Although further study would be needed to improve the productivity for realization of the industrial applications, the gas fermentation process can be simpler and more cost-effective than before."

The researchers plan to scale their work and study the productivity of their bacteria in industrial conditions.

"We may need to genetically engineer the metabolism of the strain further," Nakashimada said. "Our ultimate goal is the industrialization of the gas fermentation of the gas-to-gas process that is simpler and lower-cost."

Materials provided by Hiroshima University . Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Hiroshima University. "Engineered bacteria show promise for sustainable biofuel industry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2021. .

Hiroshima University. "Engineered bacteria show promise for sustainable biofuel industry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210512115613.htm (accessed May 12, 2021).

advertisement

1

Jan. 23, 2020 — Take biomass-derived acetone -- common nail polish remover -- use light to upgrade it to higher-mass hydrocarbons, and, voila, you have a domestically generated product that can be blended with ...

Apr. 9, 2019 — Chemical engineers have devised an alternative approach to synthesizing epoxides, a type of chemical that is found in many products, including plastics, pharmaceuticals and textiles. Their approach ...

Oct. 10, 2018 — Consumers are growing more knowledgeable about the potential health effects of nail polish, and manufacturers have taken action. They have started removing potentially toxic ingredients and labeling ...

Mar. 29, 2017 — Since ancient times, people have used lustrous silver, platinum and gold to make jewelry and other adornments. Researchers have now developed a new way to add the metals to nail polish with minimal ...
Read more on sciencedaily.com
News Topics :
RELATED STORIES :
Technology
An international research collaboration has taken an important step toward the commercially viable manufacture of biobutanol, an alcohol whose strong potential as a fuel for gasoline powered engines could pave the...
Technology
Take biomass derived acetone common nail polish remover use light to upgrade it to higher mass hydrocarbons, and, voila, you have a domestically generated product that can be blended with...
Technology
A research group at KAIST has developed an engineered E. coli strain that converts formic acid and CO2 to pyruvate and produces cellular energy from formic acid through reconstructed one carbon...
Technology
Sandia National Laboratories scientists Seema Singh, left; and Fang Liu hold vials of vanillin and fermentation broth, which are critical for turning plant matter into biofuels and other valuable chemicals....
Technology
Close Scientists have recently learned how to use light to control specific groups of neurons to better understand the operation of the brain, a development that has transformed areas of...