Sugar In Your Gas Tank

Aron Schatz
February 1, 2007

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Sugar may be used to make real fuels. We're talking about the range from jet fuel to gasoline.


What if gasoline, diesel and jet fuel could be made without oil and made instead with sugar? An Emeryville-based company founded by U.C. Berkeley scientists is on its way to doing just that, with staggering environmental and economic implications.
This sugary solution could be what breaks America's addiction to oil. Science has long understood how ethanol is made by adding sugar to yeast. But now using the same basic biological processes, scientists can re-program the microbes to make something closer to gasoline. It's cutting-edge technology commonly known as "synthetic biology" and it will change the way we fuel any vehicle that now relies on oil -- at least that's the hope at Emeryville-based Amyris Biotechnologies. Jack Newman, PhD, Amyris Biotechnologies VP: "Why are we making ethanol if we're trying to make a fuel? We should be making something that looks a lot more like gasoline. We should be making something that looks a lot more like diesel. And if you wanted to design, you name it, a jet fuel? We can make that too."


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