See Joule Unlimited - biodiesel from e-coli

Continuing the discussion from OECD predicts collapse of capitalism:

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Sadly, all three of the options proposed are equally plausible. :frowning:

Here are a few articles on the subject for you guys. The process works, but not in large scale. Also, a lot of different labs are working on it at the same time.

Currently, the process isn’t efficient enough to substitute other forms of fuel production. (The KAIST Team from the Clean Technica are able to do this, “The result is a gasoline solution or “broth,” from which the team was able to extract about 580 mg of gasoline per liter.”) Since a lot of different groups are all working toward the same end, there’s a good chance they’ll come up with a workaround, but no one really knows when.

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There’s always a catch. I remember hearing a story that when people were developing nuclear power they thought it would be so cheap to produce they’d just end up giving it away. Biotech like this is so enticing because once you build the microbe that does what you want you can probably produce scads of them extremely cheap (see Mitchell and Webb’s farming sketch).

Still, I’m glad to hear that what’s holding this technology up is just that it is inefficient. I can think of four ways this could become more efficient:

  1. Engineer microbes that excrete a better fuel to “broth” ratio
  2. Improve machinery that extracts fuel from broth to require a lower ratio to be profitable
  3. Finding a good use for the broth (e.g., does it make good fertilizer?)
  4. Carbon tax/trade system that effectively pays the companies that do this for stripping carbon out of the atmosphere

Since those factors would all have cumulative impact on the efficiency of the process, I can only imagine that we are heading for a process that works.

Come on come on come on come on.


Is it possible for one to experience a state of hopeful pessimism, you think?

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I generally opt for hopeless optimism, but whatever floats your boat I guess.

I’m thinking perhaps the former might be a tad easier on the ol’ system…

I’m just sticking with, “At least people are working on it.” If it wasn’t looking promising, they’d have already thrown in the towel.

I don’t think E.coli will cut it. There are more hopeful research directions on algae.

With bacteria, there are also ones that are way less difficult to grow than the notoriously finicky E.coli, so the choice looks odd to me.


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