A domestic research team has successfully developed the source technology for producing gasoline from microorganisms. This technology allows colitis germs to feed on glucose and release gasoline. It has changed the germ’s fatty acid cycle into an oil plant via metabolic engineering to manipulate the cell’s DNA to mass-produce the desired chemicals.
On September 30, Lee Sang-yeob and his research team published the results in the global scientific journal Nature Online.
The gasoline produced by the colitis germs can be used without additional measures, and shows the same performance despite its slightly different structure compared to current forms gasoline being sold.
The glucose on which the germs feed has been extracted from biomass such as corn or trees. Biomass is considered a continuously renewable energy source because it is created by sunlight and the carbon dioxide responsible for climate change.
This technology of producing gasoline from colitis germs will become a platform for creating other bio-compounds. Also, it creates opportunities to transfer the petroleum industry from its current drilled oil foundation to a bio-based foundation, since it uses biomass to make biofuel and base materials such as surfactants and lubricants.
Professor Lee said, “The production efficiency is still very low, but the research is noteworthy in that a microorganism has been metabolically altered to produce gasoline,” and added, “The team will continue to work on improving the production efficiency and rate.”
The team carried out the research with the support from the Next Generation Biomass Research Organization (Head Yang Ji-won) of the Global Frontier Business Department and the Climate Change Response Development Business Department of the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (MSIP).