23 Jan '12, 9pm

Unlocking Seaweed's Next-Gen Crude: Sugar

Bio Architecture Lab A trawler in Chile hauling seaweed whose sugars will be converted into ethanol. Seaweed often brings to mind thoughts of surf and sushi, not fuel. But that could change if a biotechnology startup called Bio Architecture Lab succeeds in building a new kind of energy company from designer bacteria and a low-cost process for harvesting seaweed. The key is a genetically modified strain of Escherichia coli bacterium, which can break down the sugars in brown seaweed, or macro-algae, to produce ethanol, according to new research published in the peer-reviewed journal Science. As one of the 14 study authors, BAL’s co-founder and chief science officer, Yasuo Yoshikuni, explained in a telephone interview, “Sugar is the next-generation crude oil — it can go to fuels and chemicals.” BAL’s breakthrough, he says, is about finding a way to “unlock the sugars in seawe...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/unlocking-seawe...

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