The School of Biosciences at the University of Kent has developed and manufactured equipment that can be used to research bacterial biofuel generation for a quarter of the cost of commercial systems. After then, this approach was utilized to show that bacterial genetic engineering might be applied to improve biofuel production.
Commercial equipment for studying biofuel-producing bacteria may be prohibitively costly, so the team decided to create their own bioreactors, which can be found in most research labs. The researchers then utilized this apparatus to confirm that one of their Clostridium bacterium strains that had been genetically modified could manufacture butanol more quickly.
These results, which were published in the journals Access Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology, show that a little modification in a single gene may have a big impact on how sugars are turned into biofuels.
This discovery is likely to make inexpensive bioreactors more accessible, encouraging further research into biofuel generation utilizing natural and artificial bacteria.
‘These exciting developments will help to advance research into bacterial biofuel production,’ said Dr Mark Shepherd, Senior Lecturer in Microbial Chemistry at Kent. ‘We are particularly enthusiastic to use our expertise to optimize processes that can convert waste products from food and agriculture into biofuels that are greener alternatives to fossil fuels.’