If rising fuel prices are giving you the blues, this news may well and truly get you back to your jovial self. Researchers at MIT, Boston have genetically modified Ralstonia eutropha, a soil bacterium. When stressed this bacterium ceases to grow and puts its energy in the formation of complex carbon compounds. By manipulating genes of this bacterium, scientists at MIT have managed to create a crude form of alcohol known as isobutanol which can be substituted for petrol, or blended with petrol. This breakthrough could lead to vehicles in the future being refilled with household waste.
Isobutanol is being used in current engines without any modifications and has already been used in a few race cars and supercars. Research scientist at Biology Department, MIT, Christopher Brigham who lead the project, along with his team was able redirect microbes used to make plastic, to make fuel by eliminating few genes and inserting genes from another organism, thereby altering the expression of genes.
Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth said, " This approach has several advantages over the production of ethanol from corn. Bacterial systems are scalable, in theory allowing production of large amounts of biofuel in a factory-like environment. This system in particular has the potential to derive carbon from waste products or carbon dioxide, and thus not competing with the food supply."