Microbial-based motor fuels: science and technology.
Bottom Line: Perhaps the best fuel type to generate from biomass would be biohydrocarbons.Hydrocarbons and minimally oxygenated molecules may also be produced by hybrid chemical and biological processes.A broad interest in novel fuel molecules is also driving the development of new bioinformatics tools to facilitate biofuels research.
Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics and BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 551088, USA. firstname.lastname@example.orgShow MeSH
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Mentions: One of the important questions as we enter this stage of transition is, ‘What constitutes a good motor fuel?’ The answer is partly engine dependent but there are certain rules of thumb that span across different engine types. It is generally considered that a desirable fuel should be: (i) a liquid, (ii) highly combustible but not explosive, (iii) something with a high energy to mass ratio, (iv) stable on long‐term storage, (v) transportable by pipeline and (vi) inexpensive. A range of molecules meet most of those criteria (Fig. 1); it is expected that current microbiological research will lead to additional ones. Of those shown in Fig. 1, hydrogen, methane and propane are gaseous at 20oC, but they are important fuel molecules. Hydrogen suffers from storage problems making it unable to support long‐distance travel currently. Methane, in the form of natural gas, is used principally for heating and electricity generation. Propane is used with construction vehicles, particularly forklifts (AmeriGas, America's Propane Company, 2007), but is not widely used for general transportation. Of the moderate‐sized liquid fuels (C2–C5), about 20 billion pounds of methyl‐t‐butyl ether (MTBE) has been used annually but its use is declining due to water contamination issues (Suffet, 2007). Currently, the alcohol fuels, ethanol and n‐butanol, are being developed as alternative biomass‐derived oxygenated fuels. Of the two alcohols, ethanol is most widely used globally, with Brazil and the USA accounting for approximately 90% of ethanol production (Goldemberg, 2007).
Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics and BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 551088, USA. email@example.com