A company called LS9 is creating nearly pump-ready oil using single-celled bacteria. They start with industrial yeast organisms or "non-pathogenic strains of E. coli," and redesign their DNA so that they produce a different kind of waste. Crude oil is not far removed, molecularly, from the fatty acids expelled by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, so a little bit of DNA alteration bypasses the fatty acids and produces "Oil 2.0."

The "bugs" can be fed a variety of feedstock, from politically sensitive corn to Brazilian sugar cane to California wheat straw to Southern wood chips. The result is the same: crude oil that is almost ready to pour into your car. What's more: the enterprise is carbon negative, putting out less CO2 than the operation requires. At the moment it takes a 1,000-liter fermentation machine one week to make a 40-gallon drum of crude.

It will be a moment before they have a seamless industrial-sized operation. And there is that little concern of hundreds of billions of genetically-altered critters getting free and wreaking havoc on kids and puppies. But the promise of a steady supply of safely created $40 oil -- because even the Volt will need oil -- is not a bad thing to consider. Thanks for the tip, Brad!

[Source: Times Online via Engadget]