University of California, Irvine researchers using bacteria to produce hydrocarbons from industrial waste

In California, researchers at the University of California, Irvine envision growing the Actinobacter vinelandii bacteria on industrial carbon waste to generate hydrocarbons. They found that the A. vinelandii strain that expresses the nitrogenase enzyme can produce methane (CH4), ethylene (C2H4), ethane (C2H6), propylene (C3H6), propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10).

So far they have optimized the bacteria to pump out the catalyst in greater amounts. Their lab is now engineering the enzyme to make longer-chain hydrocarbons for liquid fuel, with the goal of getting seven to eight chain carbon products.

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