Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering have developed a new source of renewable energy, a biofuel, from genetically engineered yeast cells and ordinary table sugar.
This yeast produces oils and fats, known as lipids, that can be used in place of petroleum-derived products.
Assistant professor Hal Alper, in the Cockrell School’s McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, along with his team of students, created the new cell-based platform. Given that the yeast cells grow on sugars, Alper calls the biofuel produced by this process “a renewable version of sweet crude.”
The researchers’ platform produces the highest concentration of oils and fats reported through fermentation, the process of culturing cells to convert sugar into products such as alcohol, gases or acids. This work was published in Nature Communications on Jan. 20.
The UT Austin research team was able to rewire yeast cells to enable up to 90 percent of the cell mass to become lipids, which can then be used to produce biodiesel.
“To put this in perspective, this lipid value is approaching the concentration seen in many industrial biochemical processes,” Alper said. “You can take the lipids formed and theoretically use it to power a car.”
Since fatty materials are building blocks for many household products, this process could be used to produce a variety of items made with petroleum or oils — from nylon to nutrition supplements to fuels. Biofuels and chemicals produced from living organisms represent a promising portion of the renewable energy market. Overall, the global biofuels market is expected to double during the next several years, going from $82.7 billion in 2011 to $185.3 billion in 2021.
“We took a starting yeast strain of Yarrowia lipolytica, and we’ve been able to convert it into a factory for oil directly from sugar,” Alper said. “This work opens up a new platform for a renewable energy and chemical source.”
The biofuel the researchers formulated is similar in composition to biodiesel made from soybean oil. The advantages of using the yeast cells to produce commercial-grade biodiesel are that yeast cells can be grown anywhere, do not compete with land resources and are easier to genetically alter than other sources of biofuel.
“By genetically rewiring Yarrowia lipolytica, Dr. Alper and his research group have created a near-commercial biocatalyst that produces high levels of bio-oils during carbohydrate fermentation,” said Lonnie O. Ingram, director of the Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels at the University of Florida. “This is a remarkable demonstration of the power of metabolic engineering.”
So far, high-level production of biofuels and renewable oils has been an elusive goal, but the researchers believe that industry-scale production is possible with their platform.
In a large-scale engineering effort spanning over four years, the researchers genetically modified Yarrowia lipolytica by both removing and overexpressing specific genes that influence lipid production. In addition, the team identified optimum culturing conditions that differ from standard conditions. Traditional methods rely on nitrogen starvation to trick yeast cells into storing fat and materials. Alper’s research provides a mechanism for growing lipids without nitrogen starvation. The research has resulted in a technology for which UT Austin has applied for a patent.
“Our cells do not require that starvation,” Alper said. “That makes it extremely attractive from an industry production standpoint.”
The Latest on: Sweet Crude Biofuel
via Google News
The Latest on: Sweet Crude Biofuel
- Hand Sanitizer Boom Could Save The Ethanol Industryon May 11, 2020 at 3:39 pm
General Oil Prices Crude Oil Heating Oil Gas Prices Natural Gas Coal Company News Interviews Alternative Energy Nuclear Power Solar Energy Hydroelectric Renewable Energy Geothermal Energy Wind Power ...
- CVR Energy, Inc. (CVI) CEO Dave Lamp on Q1 2020 Results - Earnings Call Transcripton May 7, 2020 at 4:37 pm
Q1 2020 Earnings Conference Call May 07, 2020, 11:00 AM ET Company Participants Jay Finks - VP of Finance and Treasurer Dave Lamp - ...
- Delek US Holdings Reports First Quarter 2020 Resultson May 5, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Reported first quarter net loss of $(314.4) million and Adjusted EBITDA of $(29.7) million -- Reducing 2020 capital expenditures by approximately $75 million representing a 23% decrease -- Improving ...
- Valero Energy Corporation (VLO) CEO Joseph Gorder on Q1 2020 Results - Earnings Call Transcripton April 29, 2020 at 2:10 pm
Q1 2020 Earnings Conference Call April 29, 2020, 10:00 AM ET Company Participants Homer Bhullar - VP, IR Joseph Gorder - Ch ...
- Valero Energy Reports First Quarter 2020 Resultson April 29, 2020 at 3:30 am
Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE: VLO, "Valero") today reported a net loss attributable to Valero stockholders of $1.9 billion, or $4.54 per share, for the first quarter of 2020 compared to net income ...
- Oil markets’ crash raises tough questions for the industry’s futureon April 22, 2020 at 3:04 am
West Texas Intermediate or WTI is the term used for U.S. oil, mostly produced in the Permian Basin, that is “light and sweet” because ... Prices of the two major crude oil grades have both ...
- Daily on Energy: Outside Trump allies warn against oil tariffson April 8, 2020 at 9:11 am
Pyle, in an interview with Josh, noted that many U.S. refiners are tooled to take heavier sour crude, not the light sweet variety produced ... to exempt them from the biofuels mandate.
- Valero Energy (VLO) Q1 Earnings & Revenues Beat Estimateson April 25, 2019 at 8:24 pm
Valero Energy's (VLO) first-quarter results are supported by a rise in renewable diesel sales volumes and lower operating expenses.
- Congress defies Bush on oil reserveon May 13, 2008 at 5:00 am
But Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, who wrote the amendment, said suspending the shipments could cut the cost of a barrel of the sought-after light sweet crude up to 10 percent. The amendment ...
via Bing News