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Could Biofuels Help Power Jets?

• Charles Q. Choi via

A new synthetic type of biofuel created by mixing and matching bits of DNA from different organisms could one day replace diesel and jet fuel, scientists say.

Biofuels are renewable sources of energy created using living organisms such as plants. The most common biofuel used in vehicles today is ethanol, more commonly known as drinking alcohol.

"Global demand for energy is rising and a fuel that is independent of both global oil price fluctuations and political instability is an increasingly attractive prospect," said researcher John Love, a synthetic biologist at the University of Exeter in England.

However, ethanol is not fully compatible with modern engines. As such, it requires blending with petroleum products, which means it can only meet a small fraction of the world's transportation fuel demand.

In contrast, "we are using synthetic biology to make not an alternative biofuel, but exact replicas of the fossil fuels that we use in engines today," Love told TechNewsDaily. "We can now make biofuels that function exactly like fossil fuels and require absolutely no modifications to existing engine technology." [See also: Bioengineered Bacteria Pump Out Fuel for Cars]

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