Navigation Links
Energy Deptartment funds UW project to turn wasted natural gas into diesel

The U.S. Department of Energy this month awarded a group led by the University of Washington $4 million to develop bacteria that can turn the methane in natural gas into diesel fuel for transportation.

"The product that we're shooting for will have the same fuel characteristics as diesel," said principal investigator Mary Lidstrom, a UW professor of chemical engineering and microbiology. "It can be used in trucks, boats, buses, cars, tractors anything that diesel does now."

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, selected the UW-led project in its second major funding round that awarded 66 grants to U.S. universities, businesses and national labs. The Energy Department launched the agency in 2009 to support high-risk, potentially transformative energy research projects.

The UW engineers will work with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab and two industry partners. They will target the natural gas associated with oil fields, which is often flared off as waste, as well as so-called "stranded" natural gas reserves that are too small for a pipeline to be economically viable.

The team aims to capture that natural gas and use bacteria to turn its main component, methane, into a liquid fuel for transportation.

"The goal at the end of three years is to have an integrated process that will be ready for pre-commercialization pilot testing," Lidstrom said.

The four project partners have distinct roles. First, the UW team will develop a version of the bacteria that is even better at converting methane to energy-rich fatlike molecules. Then LanzaTech, a New Zealand-based biofuels company, will develop a way to grow the new bacteria in larger quantities at high efficiency. Next the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo., will devise an efficient way to extract the energy-rich molecules from the microbe's cells. Finally, partners at Johnson Matthey, a U.K. chemical company, will use chemical catalysts to convert those molecules into diesel.

After establishing a viable method, national lab scientists will work with the industry partners to develop an economic model that predicts manufacturing costs as production scales up.

The bacterium at the center of the effort comes from an alkaline salty lake near Mongolia. Team member Marina Kalyuzhnaya, a UW research associate professor in microbiology, discovered it during her graduate studies in Russia. The microbe can survive in harsh environments, consumes methane and uses it to build cells containing energy-rich lipids. At the UW, the microbe has been evolved to grow unusually fast, making it practical for industrial applications.

Other members of the UW team are research assistant professor David Beck and senior research scientist Ludmila Chistoserdova, both in chemical engineering. The grant starts in February and lasts three years, with project milestones due every quarter.

"It's exciting," Lidstrom said. "We have to hit the ground running. It's very ambitious but we believe this team is strong enough, and we know enough about what needs to be done that we will achieve our goal."


Contact: Hannah Hickey
University of Washington

Related biology news :

1. Story tips From the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory, March 2012
2. First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop
3. Polycrystalline diamond drill bits open up options for geothermal energy
4. NOAA science supports New Yorks offshore energy planning
5. Energy requirements make Antarctic fur seal pups vulnerable to climate change
6. Carnegies Greg Asner named Energy/Climate Fellow by US State Department
7. A new dimension for solar energy
8. Is bioenergy expansion harmful to wildlife?
9. University of Minnesota invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy
10. Nanocrystal-coated fibers might reduce wasted energy
11. Europe meets to discuss progress in energy research and development
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once again ... of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 Awards ... Las Vegas . Winners are ... of the following categories: net square feet of paid exhibit ... 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of 50 ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... The global Biometric ... USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to a ... proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, consumer ... the market growth.      (Logo: ... of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication and ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... von Nepal hat ... Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung ... in der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. ... Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Parallel 6 , the leading software as a ... Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables both audio and video telemedicine ... team. , Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians can schedule a face to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016  Regular discussions on a range of ... between the two entities said Poloz. Speaking at ... Ottawa , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, ... government. "In certain ... institutions have common economic goals, why not sit down and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, ... launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which ... to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm ... Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is ... last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: