By accessing thegenome sequencesof 7,762 bacterial strains, scientists
were able to genetically engineersoil bacteria to produce
polycyclopropanated fatty acids (POP-FAs) that are energy dense and can
be converted into renewablefuelto support shipping, long-haul transport,
aviation, and rocketry.
After studying the chemical diversity of the bacterial genomes, the
scientists identified and re-purposed naturally occurring
cyclopropanated molecules by focusing on a set of candidate iterative
polyketide synthases that can possibly produce POP-FAs. They then
investigated the structure of the molecules to figure out how to
increase POP-FA production by 22-fold. This led to the successful
production of POP-FA methyl esters with candidates that can have net
heating values of more than 50 MJ/L.
The study demonstrated that the production of superior hydrocarbon fuels
to current high energy fossil fuels is possible using biological
production. Further research can help produce alternatives for modes of
transportation in which renewable fuels are of much interest.
Biosynthesis of polycyclopropanated high energy biofuels: Joule