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Microorganisms for Sustainable Biofuel Production

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Energize your research on renewable fuels

Global warming coupled with the finite nature of fossil fuels has led to a renewed interest in the production of alternative fuels that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Biofuels meet this need as they are produced from renewable sources such as sugarcane, corn, soybeans, canola oil, animal fats, lignocellulosic byproducts, and algae. They also generate fewer air pollutants as compared to fossil fuels and are considered to be nontoxic and biodegradable when pure.

Two common biofuels in use are bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is an alcohol that is commonly made by fermenting biomass high in carbohydrates (eg, sugarcane, corn) using microorganisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Biodiesel is generally made from animal fats, vegetable oils, or recycled waste oils from restaurants. While producing these biofuels from crops and animal fats provides a viable solution for reducing pollution, they are not perfect. Using plant matter to produce biofuels requires land, water, and other resources, which can result in less crop production for food consumption as well as deforestation. Similarly, using animal fats as feedstocks in biodiesel production can be challenging due to the presence of contaminants that need to be removed before the fuel can be used.

Microorganisms may provide a way to produce biofuels while mitigating many of these issues. Many microbial species can naturally generate oils as preferred raw material for biodiesel production. When compared to animal fats or vegetable oils, microbial-produced oils can be easily scaled up and are more sustainable. Further, lignocellulose is the structural backbone of every plant and is one of the most abundant materials on this planet; many fungi can break down lignocellulosic material into simple sugars that can be fermented into bioethanol. Microorganisms such as algae can be employed for photosynthetic conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide into high-energy chemicals for biofuel products. Their ability to produce biofuels can also be further optimized and enhanced through genetic engineering. Another important advantage of using microorganisms for biofuel production is that they require less resources as compared to crop growth. Microalgae, for example, can be grown on non-arable lands using water that is unsuitable for irrigation (eg, wastewater, salt water, brackish water).

To support research on the generation of alternative fuels, ATCC offers a variety of microbial strains with known biofuel production capabilities. Explore our collection of algae, bacteria, and fungi below to get started.

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Achieve sustainable production of complex biochemicals

Chemical compounds have numerous applications across the food, energy, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries. However, with growing concerns surrounding environmental pollution, climate change, and the finite nature of fossil fuels, there has been considerable efforts made toward finding ways to produce these compounds from renewable resources. Discover how microorganisms can be used for the sustainable production of commercially and clinically valuable metabolites.

Learn more about microbial bioproduction

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