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Turning Toxic By-Product Into Biofuel Booster

John Shanklin and Carl Andre

Lead researcher John Shanklin and former postdoc Carl Andre

Brookhaven scientists studying an enzyme that naturally produces alkanes – long carbon-chain molecules that could be a direct replacement for the hydrocarbons in gasoline – have figured out why the natural reaction typically stops after three to five cycles. Armed with that knowledge, they've devised a strategy to keep the reaction going. The biochemical details renew interest in using the enzyme in bacteria, algae, or plants to produce biofuels that need no further processing.

"Alkanes are very similar to the carbon-chain molecules in gasoline. They represent a potential renewable alternative to replace the petrochemical component of gasoline," said biochemist John Shanklin, who led the research. "Unlike the process of breaking down plant biomass to sugars and fermenting them to ethanol, biologically produced alkanes could be extracted and used directly as fuel."

Read more about this exciting research.

2013-3733  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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