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Direct biological conversion of solar energy to volatile hydrocarbon fuels by engineered cyanobacteria

Objective

"The objective of the DirectFuel project is to develop photosynthetic microorganisms that catalyze direct conversion of solar energy and carbon dioxide to engine-ready fuels. A key process target of the proposal is 'direct' in the sense that fuel production should not require destructive extraction and further chemical conversion to generate directly useable transport fuels. To further increase our chances of delivering a functioning process we target only non-toxic end-products that have been demonstrated to function in existing or minimally modified combustion engines. From the above criteria, we have chosen to develop an exclusively biological production process for the volatile end-products ethylene and short-chain n-alkanes ethane and propane in photosynthetic cyanobacteria.
As no natural biochemical pathways are known to exist for short-chain alkane biosynthesis, we first identify potential gene candidates through informatics analysis and then tailor the substrate specificities of the encoded enzymes by enzyme engineering. In order to directly capture solar energy to drive fuel biosynthesis, the synthetic pathways are at first assembled in the photosynthetic model organism Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. It is highly unlikely that mere 'introduction' of novel biochemical pathways will result in high-yield synthesis of desired end-products. The final key step is therefore to optimize native host metabolism to deliver reducing energy and metabolic precursors to the synthetic pathways with maximum metabolic flux.
Successful construction of the intended strains would allow low-cost production of transport fuel in a potentially neutral 'greenhouse gas' emitting process that does not compete for agricultural land. The proposed project is highly relevant to the call as we construct ""new metabolic pathways"" that catalyze ""direct"" production of ""gaseous fuels for transport"" ""directly from solar radiation""."

Call for proposal

FP7-ENERGY-2010-1
See other projects for this call

Coordinator

TURUN YLIOPISTO
Address
Yliopistonmaki
20014 Turku
Finland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 744 310
Administrative Contact
Eva-Mari Aro (Prof.)

Participants (8)

TEKNOLOGIAN TUTKIMUSKESKUS VTT
Finland
EU contribution
€ 680 476
Address
Tekniikantie 4 A
02044 VTT Espoo
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Merja Penttilä (Prof.)
ALBERT-LUDWIGS-UNIVERSITAET FREIBURG
Germany
EU contribution
€ 424 240
Address
Fahnenbergplatz
79098 Freiburg
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Wolfgang Hess (Prof.)
HUMBOLDT-UNIVERSITAET ZU BERLIN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 329 440
Address
Unter Den Linden 6
10117 Berlin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Brigitte Lehmann (Dr.)
THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 557 071
Address
Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Liz Fay (Ms.)
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
United States
EU contribution
€ 299 220
Address
South Street 3003 1068
46109 1274 Ann Arbor
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Elaine Brock (Ms.)
KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Denmark
EU contribution
€ 370 082
Address
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Ivan Kristoffersen (Mr.)
PSI (PHOTON SYSTEMS INSTRUMENTS), SPOL. SRO
Czechia
EU contribution
€ 216 320
Address
Drasov 470
664 24 Drasov
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Martin Trtilek (Mr.)
INGEG S.R.L
Italy
EU contribution
€ 108 360
Address
Strada Ribrocca 11
15057 Tortona
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Alessandra Frattini (Dr.)