Posted by: Nar Williams | June 26, 2008

Scientists Engineer Bugs That Crap Crude Oil

Oil from Bugs?

With the price of oil now over $140 a barrel, it’s no wonder that the world’s brightest minds are looking to make energy dependency obsolete.  Hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel, solar energy — all are candidates to solving the issue, but here’s an idea that you probably didn’t see coming:

Bugs that excrete oil.

Yeah, I know. Weird.  The company LS9 in Silicon Valley is at work on the genetic alteration of very small bugs (E. coli) so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips, they excrete crude oil.

Because crude oil (which can be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel) is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.

At this point LS9 can produce its bug fuel in laboratory beakers, but it is unclear whether it will be able produce the same results on a mass scale. America consumes 143 million barrels of oil every week. That’s going to take a lot of bugs. And a whole lot of crap…

Read more at The Times

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