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Researchers Boost Production Of Biofuel That Could Replace Gasoline

Engineers at Ohio State University have found a way to double the production of the biofuel butanol, which might someday replace gasoline in automobiles.

The process improves on the conventional method for brewing butanol in a bacterial fermentation tank.

Normally, bacteria could only produce a certain amount of butanol -- perhaps 15 grams of the chemical for every liter of water in the tank -- before the tank would become too toxic for the bacteria to survive, explained Shang-Tian Yang, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State.

Yang and his colleagues developed a mutant strain of the bacterium Clostridium beijerinckii in a bioreactor containing bundles of polyester fibers. In that environment, the mutant bacteria produced up to 30 grams of butanol per liter.

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