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UCL Mechanical Engineering
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Review paper on engineering micro-organisms for designer fuels production

Engine testing of a fuel from micro-algae

Engine testing of a fuel from micro-algae

What should future sustainable fuels from genetically engineered micro-organisms be so that they are cleaner burning and more efficient than the fossil fuels and current crop-derived biofuels they might replace?

Dr Paul Hellier and Professor Nicos Ladommatos, from UCL Mechanical Engineering, have recently published with Dr Saul Purton, Reader at the UCL Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, a review paper combining their respective expertise in understanding the combustion and emissions characteristics of future fuels for internal combustion engines and the genetic modification of micro-organisms, such as micro-algae, for producing these fuels.

The paper “Molecular structure of photosynthetic microbial biofuels for improved engine combustion and emissions characteristics” , published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, explores how photo-synthetic micro-organisms can be engineered to produce designer fuels from sunlight and carbon dioxide, and how the molecular structure of these fuels can be optimised for more efficient release of energy during combustion, in both diesel and spark ignition engines, and emit lower levels of toxic pollutants, such as NOx or soot.

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