One of the long-term problems of air travel is its dependence on oil, a limited resource that contributes to climate change.
Researchers have come up with a way to create an alternative fuel for aircraft by collecting a unique carbon molecule derived from the main bacteria that lives in the soil.
“In chemistry, anything that requires energy to produce releases energy when it breaks down,” says lead author Pablo Cruz Morales, a microbiologist at DTU Biosustain, part of the Technical University of Denmark.
Knowing that igniting petroleum-derived jet fuel creates an enormous amount of energy when ignited, scientists wondered if there was a way to replicate the process without relying on fossil fuels.
Cruz Morales was contacted by Jay Kessling, a chemical engineer at the University of California who was then a postdoc in his lab, who had the idea to recreate javsamycin, a molecule made by the common bacteria known as streptomycetes.
Cruz Morales speaks in statement: “The recipe is already in nature,” noting that the jagged molecule is produced by bacteria that metabolize glucose.
And when they take in sugar or amino acids, they break them down and turn them into building blocks for carbon-carbon bonds.
Cruz Morales explains that bacteria-produced fuel will work just like biodiesel.
It would need to be processed to ignite at a temperature lower than the temperature needed to burn fatty acids, but once ignited, it would be strong enough to send a rocket into space.
The researchers who published their findings June 30 in the journal Joulein expanding the process in the future so that alternative fuels can actually be used in aircraft.
Source: Daily Mail