APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- High energy fuels for applications where high energy density is valuable (e.g., aviation, rocketry, drones)
- Polycyclopropanated molecules for pharmaceuticals
- Very high energy density and high heat of combustion
- Kerosene, a petroleum-derivative, is the most widely used aviation fuel. Current renewable liquid jet fuels satisfy a key requirement for aviation in terms of their stability (i.e. remaining liquid at low temperatures). However, due to their low heat of combustion, blending with conventional jet fuel and other petroleum-derived compounds is still needed to improve their properties for high energy density aviation applications.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed precursors for very high energy biofuels using polyketide synthases.
The invention introduces an artificial genetic system into a bacterial host that then produces polycyclopropanated molecules. This pathway involves a polyketide synthase enzyme complex that extends polyketides in a cyclic manner. After researchers selected iterative polyketide synthetases (iPKS) and mined bacterial genomes, they used synthetic biology to refactor the pathways and expressed them in Streptomyces coelicolor and E. coli hosts. They achieved production of a variety of multi-cyclopropane containing molecules, which serve as valuable key intermediates for renewable aviation fuels. To further improve the fuel properties of the polyketide products, researchers developed strategies to control the product length and tailor the final products into alkanes and esters.
JBEI researchers are not aware of any other system for production of polycyclopropanated free acids or biosynthetically produced polycyclopropanated fuel. The genes in the artificial system are new and have not been previously characterized and the design and genome mining strategy used for the construction of the system is original. Ultimately, the present results open the possibility for the sustainable production of very high energy fuels for aviation or precursors for drug development.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
- Pablo Cruz-Morales
- Kevin Yin
- Robert Bertrand
- Ethan Oksen
- Aidan Cowan
- Yuzhong Liu
- Eric Sundstrom
- Jay D. Keasling
STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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