New pathways, better biofuels

The mass manufacture of biofuels could hold the key to greener, more environmentally sound energy, transportation and product options. Scientists have previously engineered metabolic pathways of microbes, making them tiny biofuel factories. Now, new research from an engineer at Washington University in St. Louis further refines the process, stitching together the best bits of several different bacteria to synthesize a new biofuel product that matches current engines better than previously produced biofuels.

“My lab is interested in developing microbial biosynthetic processes to make biofuels, chemicals, and materials with tailored structures and properties,” said Fuzhong Zhang, associate professor at the School of Engineering & Applied Science.  “Previously, we engineered E.coli to produce a precursor compound that leads to the production of advanced biofuels. In this work, we took the next step toward the actual manufacture.”

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