|Beer? Not quite. Try fermented sugar water that produced diesel instead of alcohol|
I was surprised when they mentioned the manipulation of Brewer's Yeast. The way the yeast basically works is that you feed yeast a sugary water and it produces CO2 and alcohol. In beer we allow the CO2 to pass through an airlock, and the liquid becomes alcoholic, and we drink the alcoholic beverage in a pint glass.
|Under the microscope: Diesel rising to the top of the fermenting sugar water|
The documentary takes us to a synthetic biology lab where scientists have engineered brewer's yeast to produce diesel instead of
alcohol. They are "reprogramming [the] yeast to make and meet the petroleum needs of the world." We get to see the lab, the pilot system, and within about a days timing the yeast has fermented the sugar water and instead of an alcoholic drink, we've got diesel. The diesel rises to the top of the liquid because it's lighter than the water, and then they separate it. Pretty extraordinary technology. An article in The Guardian that "diesel seeps out of every cell. This synthetic biodiesel is already used to power trucks in Brazil. Amyris's ambition is to scale up from pilot plants to industrial-scale production."
|The extraction of diesel on the left, and collection of yeast on the right.|
Images are still-shots taken from the BBC Documentary.
- - -
Stay up to date with Focus on the Beer. You can receive email updates and join us on our Facebook page.