Link to the article here.
Read on for more about Dr. Wackett's project!
Cost-effective and sustainable production of biofuels is a critical component of the United States' energy strategy to combat climate change and reduce dependence on foreign oil imports while remaining economically competitive. This project works towards these goals by coupling transformational systems biology and bioprocessing with biorefining technology.
Shewanella bacteria will be used as a platform organism for high-volume hydrocarbon fuel-feedstock production. Hydrocarbon fuels will be produced by developing an integrated, feedstock-flexible system consisting of appropriately engineered biohydrocarbon-producing Shewanella strains deployed in a novel thin film bioreactor design. The thin film bioreactor design can not only use biomass-derived carbohydrates as a feedstock, but can also enable the direct utilization of sunlight and CO2 by co-culturing Shewanella with a photosynthetic bacterium. In a final step, the biohydrocarbon molecules will undergo a tailor-made cracking (i.e. breaking down) process to obtain the desired gasoline and diesel fuels.
Overall, the research is innovative and transformational, yet grounded in fundamental science, as it builds on large Department of Energy investments in Shewanella systems biology, cellulose conversion and photosynthetic co-cultures.
Photo: Josh Kohanek, 2010