Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic biology research: Could fuel for cars or household power supplies be created from naturally-occurring fatty acids?

Date:
December 17, 2012
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Scientists have identified a biocatalyst which could produce chemicals found in ice-cream and household items such as soap and shampoo – possibly leading to the long-term replacement of chemicals derived from fossil fuels. This development could mean fuel for cars or household power supplies could be created from naturally-occurring fatty acids.

Writing in PNAS, the researchers have shown that the emerging field of synthetic biology can be used to manipulate hydrocarbon chemicals, found in soaps and shampoos, in cells.

This development, discovered with colleagues at the University of Turku in Finland, could mean fuel for cars or household power supplies could be created from naturally-occurring fatty acids.

The researchers, led by Professor Nick Turner from The University of Manchester, used synthetic biology to hijack the naturally-existing fatty acids and direct those fatty molecules towards the production of ready-to-use fuel and household chemicals.

Hydrocarbon chemicals are everywhere in our daily lives; as fragrance in soap, thickener in shampoo and fuel in the car. Their number of carbons and whether they are acid, aldehyde, alcohol or alkane are important parameters that influence how toxic they are to biological organisms, the potential for fuel and their olfactory perception as aroma compounds.

The breakthrough allows researchers to further explore how to create renewable energy from sustainable sources, and the advance could lead to more innovative ways of sourcing fuel from natural resources.

Synthetic biology is an area of biological research and technology that combines science and engineering for the benefit of society. Significant advances have been made in this field in recent years.

Professor Turner said: "In our laboratories in Manchester we currently work with many different biocatalysts that catalyse a range of chemical reactions -- the key is to match up the correct biocatalyst with the specific product you are trying to make.

"Biocatalysts recognise molecules in the way that a lock recognises a key -- they have to fit perfectly together to work. Sometime we redesign the lock so that if can accept a slightly different key allowing us to make even more interesting products.

"In this example we need to make sure that the fatty acid starting materials would be a perfect match for the biocatalysts that we discovered and developed in our laboratories.

"As with many leading areas of science today, in order to make major breakthroughs it is necessary for two or more laboratories around the world to come together to solve challenging problems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Kalim Akhtar, Nicholas J. Turner, and Patrik R. Jones. Carboxylic acid reductase is a versatile enzyme for the conversion of fatty acids into fuels and chemical commodities. PNAS, December 17, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1216516110

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Synthetic biology research: Could fuel for cars or household power supplies be created from naturally-occurring fatty acids?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152647.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2012, December 17). Synthetic biology research: Could fuel for cars or household power supplies be created from naturally-occurring fatty acids?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152647.htm
University of Manchester. "Synthetic biology research: Could fuel for cars or household power supplies be created from naturally-occurring fatty acids?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217152647.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday as Japanese rescuers resumed efforts to find survivors and retrieve bodies of those trapped by Mount Ontake's eruption. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — California is the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery, liquor and convenience stores. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins