First Microbial Synthesis of Biofuel Precursor Sabinene Acheived

by | Feb 12, 2014

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QUiBResearchers from Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology have found a way to use an engineered E. coli strain to  create a biosynthetic form of sabinene — a naturally occurring precursor for aircraft biofuels — from sugar cane.

Currently, sabinene is extracted from plants, but in such small amounts as the render the extraction process economically inefficient, according to Microbial production of sabinene–a new terpene-based precursor of advanced biofuel. As the demand for biofuels increase, an alternative and cheaper way of obtaining the sabinene is becoming more important.

In the study, sabinene was produced by building a biosynthetic pathway using methylerythritol 4-phosphate or heterologous mevalonate in the engineered E. coli strain.

The researchers described the process as both “green and sustainable.”

In November, Biofuel developer LanzaTech became the first company in the world to have its jet fuel certified by the independent Roundtable on Sustainable Biomass, moving its partnership with airline Virgin Atlantic forward in the process.

Beijing Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Science & Technology earned RSB’s sustainability certification for the joint venture’s facility that converts waste steel mill gases to sustainable biofuels. The RSB is a global sustainability standard and certification system for biofuels and biomaterials production.

Last June, United Airlines announced plans to purchase 15 million gallons of biofuel from AltAir Fuels for use on flights departing from Los Angeles International Airport starting in 2014. The companies expect AltAir Fuels’ renewable jet fuel to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis.

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