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Photoproduction of bioethanol from CO2 using cyanobacteria

14th national competition for scientific and technical research


Senior Researcher : Miguel García Guerrero

Research Centre or Institution : Instituto de Bioquímica Vegetal y Fotosíntesis. CSIC-Universidad de Sevilla.


Ethanol, an excellent fuel with an ever-increasing demand, is conventionally produced by fermentation of plant carbohydrates, with sugar cane (Brazil), maize (United States) and cereals (Europe) being the main raw materials. The project envisages the use of the cyanobacterium (blue-green algae) Synechocystis to achieve direct and renewable sunlight-driven production of ethanol from CO2. Essentially, and based on an in-depth knowledge of the metabolic processes involved, in addition to their complementation and manipulation using genetic engineering techniques, we aim to produce cyanobacteria strains that generate ethanol using air and water as basic substrates. The development of this biotechnological system for effective ethanol photoproduction is an objective of considerable interest and relevance, both from an energy and environmental point of view. On the one hand, using sunlight as the energy source, a biofuel with high energy content and multiple practical applications is photosynthesised. On the other hand, the process removes CO2, the main greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, thereby contributing to impoving air quality. The environmental view entails, in turn, significant economic consequences, particularly in countries such as Spain which have signed commitments to reduce their CO2 emissions.

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