Brown seaweed can be turned in to ethanol

The common intestinal bacteria Escherichia coli has been genetically modified to break down brown Kombu seaweed to produce ethanol. One problem has been that most bacteria are unable to digest one of the most common sugars in algae, alginate.  But after two days at a temperature of 25–30°C the microbe was able to turn 80 per cent of the sugars into ethanol.

The potential yield for this technology, according to the researchers, is double that of sugar cane ethanol and five times that of corn ethanol. They estimate that if the algae were grown along three per cent of the world’s coasts it could produce 227 billion litres of ethanol using this technique.

Source: Scientific American, 19 January 2012

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