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Scientists Develop Plastic-Producing Bacteria

Posted By Jason Sahler On September 22, 2008 @ 5:00 am In Green Materials,San Francisco | 5 Comments

bacteria plastic manufacturing, BDO, butanediol, Genomatica, plastic producing bacteria, plastic producing e coli, e coli genetic engineering, bio-manufacturing, genetic engineering, plastic producing bacteria, genomatica inc, carbon-free plastic [1]

Scientists at Genomatica Inc. [2] recently announced that they have developed strains of bacteria that are able to produce plastic without the use of oil [3] or natural gas. The sustainable process utilizes little more than sugar and water to produce butanediol (BDO) [4], which can be manufactured into everything from plastics [5] and fibers to pharmaceuticals. Genomatica estimates that within a year the energy-efficient process will cost less than current hydrocarbon-based processes – a revolutionary development since close to 3 billion pounds of BDO manufactured each year.


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Currently BDO is made exclusively with oil and natural gas, and its production is very energy-intensive. Utilizing sugar [6] and E. Coli to create the chemical allows the production process to be conducted under normal pressure and temperatures, which drastically cuts it energy use: “By using advanced computational modeling and evolution‐based methods to rapidly engineer living organisms, Genomatica can produce valuable chemicals from renewable feedstocks at low cost.”

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The bacteria-grown plastic can be produced in large fermentation tanks in a manner similar the way that algae [7] is being used to produce biofuels, and the company plans on using sugars that are non-competitive with the food industry to steer clear of some of the conflicts that have been brought up with ethanol-based fuels [8].

+ Genomatica [2]

Via Scientific American [9]


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/scientists-develop-plastic-producing-bacteria/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/09/22/scientists-develop-plastic-producing-bacteria/

[2] Genomatica Inc.: http://www.genomatica.com/index.html

[3] oil: http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/10/04/want-to-stop-global-warming-stop-coal/

[4] butanediol (BDO): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1,4-Butanediol

[5] plastics: http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/08/20/y-bottles-by-yves-behar/

[6] sugar: http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/09/04/sony-bio-battery-runs-entirely-on-sugar/

[7] algae: http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/10/22/power-your-car-with-algae-algae-biocrude-by-livefuels/

[8] fuels: http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/09/09/san-francisco-announces-10-million-gallon-biodiesel-plant/

[9] Scientific American: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=turning-bacteria-into-plastic-factories-replacing-fossil-fuels

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