Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tobacco for biofuel?

On September 25, 2014, within a post from the California Academy of Sciences titled The Search for More Sustainable Biofuels , there was text

Here’s an interesting idea from scientists at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: tobacco to fuel. According to KQED Quest, by adding algae and cyanobacteria to tobacco, the researchers can create a very efficient and cost-effective biofuel. “‘All the things that make tobacco bad are really good for fuels,’ said Bill Shelander [of LBNL],” according to the post. But even though it won’t compete with food crops, there are still issues with this potential biofuel, including heavy pesticide use.

On September 30, 2014, US patent 8,847,010 issued. Titled Engineered tobacco biomass with increased oil production and assigned to Biotechnology Foundation, Inc. and Thomas Jefferson University , its abstract:

The present invention relates to a genetically modified plant having an increased amount of oil in its green biomass as compared to the oil in the green biomass of its non-genetically modified counterpart. The plants may be used for producing bio-fuels such as biodiesel fuel.

AND claim 3:

A process for making a biofuel, comprising (a) genetically modifying a tobacco plant so that is has an increased amount of oil in its green biomass as compared to the green biomass of its non-genetically modified counterpart, and wherein said genetically modified tobacco plant has increased expression of: (1) at least one first gene, wherein said first gene encodes an AtDGAT1 polypeptide and wherein said first gene is operably linked to a first promoter which is CaMV 35S; and (2) at least one second gene, wherein said second gene encodes an Arabidopsis LEC2 transcription factor, and wherein said second gene is operably linked to a second promoter wherein said second promoter is an ethanol inducible promoter; (b) extracting oil from at least the green biomass of the tobacco plant; and (c) subjecting the extracted oil to a transesterification process to produce said biofuel.


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