Run Your Car On Poop

Scientists engineer diesel-excreting e.coli bacteria

Ladies and gentlemen, I've seen the future, and it's pretty s***ty. Scientists at biotech company LS9 Inc. in San Francisco have engineered a strain of e. coli bacteria that excretes diesel fuel. The bacteria are simply fed organic plant matter — anything with sugar in it — which they then poop out as oil.

While the researchers have focused on diesel fuel, they say the bacteria can be programmed to crap gasoline or even jet fuel. The bacteria produce tiny amounts of fuel individually, but collectively LS9 can collect barrels of fuel.

"So these are bacteria that have been engineered to produce oil," del Cardayre said. "They started off like regular lab bacteria that didn't produce oil, but we took genes from nature, we engineered them a bit [and] put them into this organism so that we can convert sugar to oil."

"We started in my garage two years ago, and we're producing barrels today, so things are moving pretty quickly," said biochemist Stephen del Cardayre, LS9 vice president of research and development.

Best of all, they function within current fuel configurations; unlike ethanol, current cars and pipelines won't need additional modifications or adjustments. Right now, researchers just need to focus on producing e. coli poop on a scale that can make a difference.

This reminds me of Doc Brown's trash-powered DeLorean in Back to the Future — we're just a few steps away, people. Now all we have to do is engineer hoverboards, which I've been waiting to shred on for like, forever. Get on it, science!

— Ted Alvarez

Lab makes renewable diesel fuel from E. coli poop (CNN)