• Jun 18, 2008
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]


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  • 53 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is great! I think we have solved our homeless problem too!
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's great. Wonder how much it will affect agriculture later. Corn, sugar, and wheat will perhaps be luxury items.
        • 6 Years Ago
        All of the "End Scenario Speculators" need to read up on permaculture. This is the case that has been made by alcohol enthusiasts and producers for over one hundred years. Welcome to the 19th century.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tai: If you had read the article, you would know it already addressed your concerns.

        Times Online UK: "The company [LS9] is not interested in using corn as feedstock, given the much-publicised problems created by using food crops for fuel, such as the tortilla inflation that recently caused food riots in Mexico City. Instead, different types of agricultural waste will be used according to whatever makes sense for the local climate and economy: wheat straw in California, for example, or woodchips in the South."

        To put it simply, they are recycling waste products into oil.

        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article4133668.ece
      • 6 Years Ago
      I AM LEGEND 2

      coming soon to theaters
        • 6 Years Ago
        this time based on a true story............
      • 6 Years Ago
      Its amazing to me that the greenies have a hard time being positive about anything that has to do with oil. To them its mere existence is killing the earth. Nothing will ever be good enough and its time to stop catering to a bunch of unhappy winers. Even if this doesn't work its a step in the right direction, and maybe some good will come of it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is what I've been saying will be the future for a while now. This same bacteria will be applied to process algae, and not valuable crops. And algae can be produced at an amazing rate.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Will this be one of those miracle stories that are talked about for a week before falling into obscurity, never to be heard of again?
      Like everything on Digg?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Keep it alive. Tell people you know, invest, write your congress person, your governor, your mayor, any government entity. Get involved... don't let it fade into obscurity.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ahh Digg...the last holdout of tinfoil conspiracy theorists who run Linux and think that stuff really will make your member larger.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think we have a winner here.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ^^^^ they wont do it! They rather help some guy with a bad Ebay seller! cough.... M3..... cough.......
      • 6 Years Ago
      How long until I can by a Mr. Fusion for my car?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am going to cut out the middle man and just put yeast and sugar in everyone's gas tanks.

      I will be a Hero!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Interesting. If it can use organic waste(food, whatever), we might be onto something. Huge tomato recall? Feed them to the bactera and get some oil out of it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Guenther: Because the salmonella was inside the tomatoes, and people could only wash the tomatoes' outside surfaces.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I still don't understand why people can't wash their tomatos
      • 6 Years Ago
      So all we need now is an e coli vaccine and this isnt as scary.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If they can be fed organic GARBAGE, maybe.

      If they require acres of arable land to grow crops for fuel, rather than food, then it is not yet a positive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Steady...

        There is a big difference between the usefulness of straw and corn.

        If it can run on straw, it can probably run off of any simple grass. You don't need prime farmland for grass. We could separate food from fuel production with the right combination of science and politics.

        You do need prime farmland for corn, and they should just leave corn out of the fuel business.

        The problem is, the Corn Producers of America are more powerful a political interest group than I think most people realize. They are the ones lobbying for more ethanol use at the pumps, and producing false data for their state legislatures that its actually a viable fuel (NOT!!!)

        Big Corn likes the fact that ethanol gets a part of the skyrocketing fuel costs. Tie food to fuel, and the more either goes up, the more money they make.

        Even if this science works, the producers of it will likely have suiters both from Big Oil and Big Corn to play ball to keep prices high. And some states might buy it hook, line and sinker.

        Oil in the ground did not originate from corn or sugarcane. It was likely dead leaves from rainforests and rotting bogs. We can replicate this, and produce food simultaneously, at low cost, if we are politically wise to the fact that the corn distillers won't give up their stock in the fuel industry without a fight.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The idea is great, but my question is what about the byproduct of this fuel? Many companies that are researching renewable fuels are also considering its environmental impact. If LS9 is creating a fuel that is very similar to what we are using now, will it give off the same emissions as the oil we use now?
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