. Energy News .

University of Kentucky-led research could be path to new energy sources
by Staff Writers
Lexington KY (SPX) Jul 14, 2011

Botryococcus braunii, Race B, is an ancient, colony-forming green alga that has attracted interest because it accumulates large amounts of high-value, petrochemical replacement oils. The oil oozing from the algal colony is evident in this picture. Credit: Photograph courtesy of Taylor Weiss, Andreas Holzenburg, Stanislav Vitha and Timothy P. Devarenne at Texas A and M University.

A team of researchers led by University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Professor Joe Chappell is making a connection from prehistoric times to the present that could result in being able to genetically create a replacement for oil and coal shale deposits. This could have fundamental implications for the future of the earth's energy supply.

Tom Niehaus, completing his doctorate in the Chappell laboratory; Shigeru Okada, a sabbatical professor from the aquatic biosciences department at the University of Tokyo; Tim Devarenne, a UK graduate and now professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A and M University; and UK colleagues, Chappell, David Watt, professor of cellular and molecular biochemistry (College of Medicine) and his post-doctoral associate Vitaliy Sviripa had an important paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Their research findings go well beyond the basic science dealing with the origins of oil and coal.

While scientists previously established that oil and coal have their roots in the organisms that lived on the planet over 500 million years ago, researchers only are sure of one organism that directly contributed to these natural resources. That organism is the algae Botryococcus braunii which left behind its chemical fingerprints - an oil that over geological time has turned into oil and coal shale deposits.

"Even more exciting is that this unique algae, B. braunii, still exists today and has been the target of studies from the large chemical and petrochemical industries," said Chappell.

This algae is very slow growing, so it is not necessarily a good source for biofuels. However, if scientists can capture its genetic blueprints for the biosynthesis of these high value oils, then these genes could be used to generate alternative production platforms.

This team of investigators isolated the necessary genes, characterized the biochemical traits encoded by these genes, and then genetically engineered yeast to produce this very high-value oil. This work has provided the first example of recreating a true direct replacement for oil and coal shale deposits.

Chappell said, "This represents the culmination of an outstanding effort to understand a fundamental process that has direct ramifications for a real-world problem - how are we going to generate a truly renewable biofuel supply?"

Devarenne added, "This study identifies a very remarkable molecular mechanism for the production of hydrocarbons that, as far as we can tell, is not found in any other organism. Thus, it offers a unique insight into how hydrocarbons were produced hundreds of millions of years ago."

Related Links
Texas A and M AgriLife Communications
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Geothermal industry to get boost from Reno research
Reno NV (SPX) Jul 12, 2011
An ambitious University of Nevada, Reno project to understand and characterize geothermal potential at nearly 500 sites throughout the Great Basin is yielding a bounty of information for the geothermal industry to use in developing resources in Nevada, according to a report to the U.S. Department of Energy. The project, based in the University's Bureau of Mines and Geology in the College o ... read more

Heatstroke cases up as Japan saves electricity

Lebanon's Cabinet discusses energy

Argentina blocks Paraguay power sales

Industry unhappy with Australia's pollution tax

University of Kentucky-led research could be path to new energy sources

China suspends ConocoPhillips operations

Chavez illness an issue for 2012 election

China navy boarded Vietnam boat in sea spat: source

New wind turbines said more efficient

Wind power numbers down in Britain

Wind farm inquiry balanced and reasonable

Power-One Inverters Chosen to Power WindTronics

Enecsys announces UL 1741 certification for single and Duo micro

Energy Insights and ASES Create Online Photovoltaic Research Panel

Solar Frontier Ships 150 Watt CIS Modules Globally

North Carolina Solar Center Expands Testing Capabilities With Donated Solar Array

Japan PM urges nuclear-free future

Differences in nuclear regulations

Hitachi GE picked for nuclear plant talks: Lithuania

Lockheed Martin Delivers Nuclear Materials Tracking System to Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Switch from corn to grass would raise ethanol output, cut emissions

Biofilters reduce carbon footprint of old landfill sites

Filters seen as greenhouse gas weapon

Grasses eyed as ethanol source

China launches new data relay satellite

China launches experimental satellite

China to launch an experimental satellite in coming days

China to launch new communication satellite

Global warming: study finds natural shields being weakened

Twelve million need food aid in Horn of Africa: FAO

Global warming: Cities, too, are carbon 'sinks'

US pledges $5 million for drought-hit Somalis

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement