Engineering Microorganisms for Energy Production

The JASON group is a science advisory consulting group that does lots of secret research stuff. They recently did a non-secret study titled "Engineering Microorganisms for Energy Production." It's available on the FAS's website. Here are chunks of the executive summary:

JASON was asked by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the Department of Energy to assess the possibilities for using microorganisms to produce fuels as a metabolic product, in particular hydrogen or ethanol. We were asked to consider the prospects for achieving such biogenic fuel production in principle and in practice; and what the requirements and fundamental limitations are for achieving viability.
...Boosting the efficiency of fuel formation from microorganisms is an important research challenge for the twenty first century. It is perhaps the major technological application for the emerging field of synthetic biology. In addition to the exciting opportunities for producing ethanol or hydrogen, microorganisms, either individually or in communities, might be used to directly produce liquid hydrocarbons.
...The systems biology of microorganisms is more tractable than that of plants, and thus microorganisms represent an excellent opportunity.

My car is going to run off amoeba farts!!! Oh wait...

Even with an optimistic assessment of the potential for improvements, photosynthetic efficiency will lag behind that of man-made technologies (e.g., photovoltaic solar cells).

Well, I'll settle for a solar car I guess. Still pretty cool.

1 comment:

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