Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green algae that could help replace fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry. The researchers engineered algae, or cyanobacteria, can be used to convert carbon dioxide into a chemical used to make paint, solvents, plastics and fuels.

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Using carbon dioxide as a raw material for reactions powered by sunlight, cyanobacteria, also known as “blue-green algae”, can make significant amounts of chemicals that can be converted to chemical feedstocks. This new three-step chemical pathway allows the cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into 2,3 butanediol, which can be further used in the chemical industry, in the form of solvents, plastics and fuels.

After three weeks growth, Atsumi’s lab at UC Davis, supported by Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei Corp., has measured that the cyanobacteria yielded 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium—the highest productivity yet achieved for chemicals grown by cyanobacteria and with potential for commercial development.

Researchers hope to be able to adjust the system and increase productivity, ultimately scaling up the technology.

Via Science Daily

Images from Wikimedia Commons