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New Microbe Strain Makes Diesel Fuel from Greenhouse Gas

A possible way to harvest and use atmospheric carbon dioxide to make high performance diesel fuel has been proposed by a team of scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) who have engineered a microbe now being used to produce biodegradable plastic into a strain that can produce advanced biofuel.

“We’ve shown that the bacterium Ralstonia eutropha growing with carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas is able to generate significant quantities of diesel-range methyl ketones,” says Harry Beller, a JBEI microbiologist who led this research, which was funded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. “This holds the promise of making carbon-neutral biofuels using non-photosynthetic, carbon-dioxide fixing bacteria as a less resource-intensive alternative to making these biofuels from cellulosic biomass.”

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