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Microbial Fuels: Biofuel Ethanol From Alginate Essay

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Updated: May 18th, 2022

Living matter and its constituent bye product has been tremendously explored by the human beings to provide a source of alternative for the betterment of society apart from regularly synthesized factory based products. Over the past few decades, there has been increasing scientific attention on Biofuels.These are low-carbon energy sources obtained from living matter (Fargione et al., 2008).They are efficient in contributing to greenhouse gas reductions compared to fuels obtained from fossils. This is because they are reported to contribute to “biofuel carbon debt” which is obtained by converting Grasslands or savannas, peatlands, and rainforests, to generate food crop-based biofuels in countries like United States and Southeast Asia. The CO2 released by biofuels is nealy17 to 420 times more than those of fossil fuels. Their demand is due to the fact that about 10% of the world’s main energy requirement is provided biomass. In spite of barriers, like political crisis, environmental tasks, resource depletions, increasing crude oil prices, biomass has the capability to withstand by serving as energy supplier (Fargione et al., 2008). Earlier in 1800’s, Corn derived ethanol was utilized to run the cars. Even the inventor of first diesel engine Rudolf Diesel in Germany was reported to use peanut oil to power the engine. This invention has become a foundation for the development of modern day biofuel and plant derived products (Biofuels Today, n.d.). Microorganisms have been exploited by research professionals to convert the biomass of plants which is a potent energy-rich carbohydrate source, into biofuels. These are biomethane and bioethanol which are produced in huge quantities (Antoni, Zverlov & Schwarz, 2007).The technology underlying the production of biofuels is “biocommodity engineering”. It involves the production of commodity products like fuels, chemicals, and materials with the application of biotechnology (Lynd, Wyman & Gerngross, 1999).

This technology has become a milestone in the biofuel production. Currently, lots of research advancements have been shaping this area to furnish better insights. Sphingomonas sp. A1 (strain A1), a gram-negative bacterium is potent in orchestrating the complex biochemical pathway. Transformation of strain A1 cells with Zymomonas mobilis genes for pyruvate decarboxylase and alcohol dehydrogenase II enables the production of biofuel ethanol from alginate(Hashimoto, Kawai & Murata, 2010). The concept of Microbial cell factories in association with synthetic biology has been in good progress.Here; ethnol production from microorganisms is enhanced or optimised by utilizing tools from metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. For example, Zymomonas mobilis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are well known in producing ethanol from 6-C sugars like mannose, galactose, and glucose, since long time.However, they fail to ferment arabinose and xylose which are 5-C sugars. Similarly, Klebsiella oxytoca and Escherichia coli, and Pichia stipitis,act on pentose sugars and produce ethanol.However, their production is low.To overcome these problems and optimize the desired yeild, key pathways will be either introduced through genetic engineering or synthetically designed and incorporate into the genome of microorganisms(Colin, Rodríguez & Cristóbal,2011).The future advances in the field pose a great challenge with regard to the production demands that often enhance cell toxicity. This could be because cell viability will be decreased when the cell membrane gets disrupted through the physiological processes interventions. This issue, of course, is handled by systems and synthetic biology that offer a platform for tolerance engineering of microbial cells.

Similarly, the promising approaches in association with tolerance strategies are engineering general stress responses, membrane modifications, heat shock proteins and biofuel export systems (Dunlop, 2011). There is a need to carry out future investigations in an interdisciplinary manner to overcome uncertainties that may be associated with research data and their interrelatedness with the topics on biofuel. This is to provide the industry fully advanced information to enhance the production outcome (Ridley et al., 2012).With the above mentioned information, the decision to recommend the government to fund microbially produced biofuels research appears very significant.


Antoni, D., Zverlov, V, V., & Schwarz, W.H. (2007). Biofuels from microbes. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 77(1), 23-35.

Biofuels Today. (n.d.). Web.

Colin Verónica Leticia,Rodríguez Analía , & Cristóbal Héctor Antoni. (2011).

The Role of Synthetic Biology in the Design of Microbial Cell Factories for Biofuel Production.J Biomed Biotechnol, 601834

Dunlop,M.J.(2011).Engineering microbes for tolerance to next-generation biofuels. Biotechnol Biofuels, 21,4:32.

Fargione, J., Hill, J., Tilman, D., Polasky, S.,& Hawthorne, P. (2008).Land clearing and the biofuel carbon debt.Science, 319(5867),1235-8.

Hashimoto, W., Kawai, S., & Murata, K.(2010).Bacterial supersystem for alginate import/metabolism and its environmental and bioenergy applications. Bioeng Bugs,(2),97-109.

Lynd, L.R., Wyman, C.E., & Gerngross, T.U.(1999). Biocommodity Engineering. Biotechnol Prog, 15(5), 777-793.

Ridley, C.E., Clark, C.M., Leduc, S.D., Bierwagen, B.G, Lin, B.B., Mehl, A., & Tobias DA.(2012). Environ Sci Technol, 46(3), 1309-15.

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