How are bacteria and fungi being used to make bio fuels?

How are bacteria and fungi being used to make bio fuels?

 

Bio fuels are an alternative to fossil fuels and are a better fuel option since they do not produce greenhouse gasses which are the main cause of global warming. Fossil fuels are also in short supply and will eventually run out, whereas bio fuels require plant material of which there is an abundance of. But the decomposition of plant material needs energy which contradicts the fact that bio fuels are carbon neutral. The use of naturally occurring fungi and bacteria which decompose plant material to modified diesel will not produce carbon dioxide but in fact actually requires carbon dioxide, such as in the case of E.coli, where there is what can be described as a mutualistic relationship in which the bacteria requires carbon dioxide and produces a modified form of diesel which can be used to produce energy.

 

Some bacteria produce ethanol by converting simple sugars, but isobutanol which has a similar composition to conventional diesel fuel is produced by E.coli. This occurs due to a fungus called T.reesei which is able to break down the plant material to sugars and E.coli converts these sugars to isobutanol. The process occurs due to the T.reesei and the E.coli, which are in a container containing corn husks; the fungus decomposes this into sugars and the bacteria converts it into isobutanol, although vehicle engines would have to be modified in order to use this bio fuel.

 

Another fungus which is used in the production of certain types of bio fuel is G.roseum which is found in the Patagonian Rainforest. It works by breaking down cellulose into compounds found in the composition of diesel, the long hydrocarbon chains which makes up approximately 75% of diesel fuels.

 

 

References

  • Rebecca Morelle (2013). E.Coli bacteria ‘can produce diesel bio fuel’, available at: bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22253746 (2014).
  • Science progress (2013). New bio fuel created from bacteria and fungus. Available at: oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/New-Biofuel-Created-From-Bacteria-and-Fungus.html (2014)

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