Scientists have been attempting to use plants to create polymers for a long time but to no success. This is because most plants comprise sugar, a component that does not even remotely resemble molecules obtained from petroleum. The primary source of sugar within plants is glucose, which has a large amount of oxygen. Further, it only contains six carbons making it extremely small to be applicable in essential applications. Two issues must be resolved to use plants to create new material. Firstly, the conversion process needs to eliminate oxygen atoms from glucose. Second, molecules will have to be combined to make larger products.
This might soon be possible as a research team has developed a chemical technology combined with chemical refining and fermentation. This results in the production of the petroleum-like liquid via renewable plants. These liquids might enhance Biofuel Market. They can serve as a superior alternative to fossil fuels when utilized for day-to-day products like lubricants, plastic containers and bags, soaps and automobile parts.
While doing their research, the team discovered that an optimal technology could be built to produce sustainable liquids on the lines of the process used to obtain petroleum, i.e., combining two usually independent technologies. So, researchers created a machine where first the glucose collected from plants was fermented with the help of microbes to eliminate the most amount of oxygen. In the next step, metal oxide catalysts work towards stripping the excess oxygen and combining the molecules. This makes helpful dissemination of olefins (building blocks of the chemical industry).
The team also successfully developed a unique Escherichia coli strain that can convert glucose to eight and ten -carbon hydroxy-acids. These molecules consist of a meagre amount of oxygen atoms at the end side of the chain. The team optimized the microbes through genetic engineering. This enabled them to ‘grow’ molecules from sugar.
The bio-renewable molecules developed by the researchers are perfect raw materials for catalytic refining. The team stated that their new molecules contain just the right amount of oxygen. This denotes that they can be easily converted to more extensive and more applicable molecules via metal nanoparticle catalysts.
According to the researchers, the established procedure has allowed them to alter the distribution of molecular products as needed. The process is similar to that of typical petroleum products, except that renewable resources were utilized.
The research showcases a relatively novel scientific approach towards sustenance. The team demonstrated a beautiful combination of biology and chemistry to provide the world with a bio-renewable alternative.
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