Bacterium + Nitrogen = Ethanol

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

78 percent of all the air we breathe is nitrogen, the most abundant gas in the Earth’s atmosphere.  This readily available substance may do more than just give us something for inspiration (there’s a pun there), it may power our vehicles and heat our homes.  The catch is that it has to be combined with the bacterium Zymomonas mobilis, which gives off ethanol when exposed to the gas. James B. McKinlay and a team of biologists at Indiana University at Bloomington work with a cluster of unlikely materials to produce, among other things, biofuels.  His laboratory posts the following description of the team’s work: “Nearly all of our society’s energy and chemical needs are met by fossil fuels. Microbes have evolved …