The goal of this project is to propose mechanisms that can optimize an existing biofuel-producing E. coli strain. Specifically we're looking at the biosynthesis of butanol.
Research Problem and Goals
Goal is to create an efficient way to biosynthesize butanol from cellulose. Existing systems have been able to biosynthesize ethanol from cellulose, but not butanol which is more energy-rich.
http://www.harvestcleanenergy.org/enews/enews_0505/enews_0505_Cellulosic_Ethanol.htm Researchers can now transform straw, and other plant wastes, into cellulosic ethanol. While chemically identical to ethanol produced from corn or soybeans, cellulose ethanol exhibits a net energy content three times higher than corn ethanol and emits a low net level of greenhouse gases. Recent technological developments are not only improving yields but also driving down production cost, leading to a day when cellulosic ethanol could replace expensive, imported "black gold" with a sustainable, domestically produced biofuel.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19325807?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=9 Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is a system in which cellulase production, substrate hydrolysis, and fermentation are accomplished in a single process step by cellulolytic microorganisms. CBP offers the potential for lower biofuel production costs due to simpler feedstock processing, lower energy inputs, and higher conversion efficiencies than separate hydrolysis and fermentation processes, and is an economically attractive near-term goal for "third generation" biofuel production
http://www.springerlink.com/content/p48g1n2nq88rrx1r/fulltext.pdf Modified E. coli was used to metabolize cellulose and use cellulose as its sole carbon source.