A fungus and E. coli bacteria have joined forces to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol, a biofuel that matches gasoline’s properties better than ethanol.
University of Michigan research team members said the principle also could be used to produce other valuable chemicals such as plastics.
“We’re hoping that biofuels made in such an efficient way can eventually replace current petroleum-based fuels,” said Xiaoxia “Nina” Lin, assistant professor of chemical engineering and leader of the research.
Gallon for gallon, isobutanol gives off 82 percent of the heat energy gasoline provides when burned, compared to ethanol’s 67 percent. Ethanol also has a tendency to absorb water, corroding pipelines and damaging engines, but isobutanol doesn’t mix easily with water. While ethanol serves as a mixer in the gasoline infrastructure today, many researchers argue that isobutanol could be a replacement.
Equally important, this system makes isobutanol from inedible plant materials…
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