# Fuel for the Future E. coli producing renewable propane from cellulose

Imagine your car being fueled by waste cellulose and the carbon footprint of transported goods diminishing. What if we lived in a world without geopolitical pressure caused by the unbalanced localization of usable fuels?

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Climate change is argued to be one of the greatest challenges faced by mankind. The current climate change is mainly caused by us humans as we have been using the Earth’s precious fossil fuel stocks causing an abrupt increase in atmospheric CO$$_2$$ levels. According to the IPCC, even if we could stop all the emissions right now, the Earth’s average temperature would rise 0.6$$^{\circ}$$C. This means we must act now. To fight climate change we have taken advantage of an abundant and renewable Finnish resource: the trees. With the help of our forest industry, we will tackle the emissions made by the road transportation. These emissions make up a considerable 11% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Cellulose is the main raw material collected from Finland’s forests. Additionally about 200 million tonnes of cellulose is wasted every year in the European Union alone.This cellulose could be collected and sustainably refined into biofuel without interfering with food production or increasing agricultural land use.

We will integrate three cellulose hydrolysing enzymes into the genome of Escherichia coli. A secretion tag is attached to these enzymes, and they will travel out to the bacterium’s extracellular space. In this space, the enzymes will hydrolyse cellulose into glucose, which is taken up by the cell. The glucose will function as the cell’s carbon and energy source.

Imagine your car being fueled by waste cellulose and the carbon footprint of transported goods diminishing. What if we lived in a world without geopolitical pressure caused by the unbalanced localization of usable fuels?

Climate change is argued to be one of the greatest challenges faced by mankind. The current climate change is mainly caused by us humans as we have been using the Earth’s precious fossil fuel stocks causing an abrupt increase in atmospheric CO$$_2$$ levels. According to IPCC, even if we could stop all the emissions right now, the Earth’s average temperature would rise 0.6$$^{\circ}$$C. This means we must act now. To fight climate change we have taken advantage of an abundant and renewable Finnish resource: the trees. With the help of our forest industry, we will tackle the emissions made by the road transportation. These emissions make up a considerable 11% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Imagine your car being fueled by waste cellulose and the carbon footprint of transported goods diminishing. What if we lived in a world without geopolitical pressure caused by the unbalanced localization of usable fuels?

Cellulose is the main raw material collected from Finland’s forests. Additionally about 200 million tonnes of cellulose is wasted every year in the European Union alone.This cellulose could be collected and sustainably refined into a biofuel without interfering with food production or increasing agricultural land use.

We will integrate three cellulose hydrolysing enzymes into the genome of Escherichia coli. A secretion tag is attached to these enzymes, and they will travel out to the bacterium’s extracellular space. In this space, the enzymes will hydrolyse cellulose into glucose, which is builds up in the growth media. The glucose will function as the cell’s carbon and energy source.

Our E. coli takes up glucose from the growth media and uses it to produce propane. The propane will be produced as a gas, and diffuses out of the growth media. This is a significant plus in terms of production: the propane will not affect the growth conditions and less downstream processing is needed. Propane is already widely used as a fuel, and is suitable for heavy transportation needs as well as passenger cars and scooters. Propane is currently produced as a side product of the petrochemical industry, but would rise to be a 2nd generation biofuel with our method. Propane emits less CO$$_2$$ than ethanol or gasoline and has a higher energy density than ethanol.

Our solution is simple: the carbon dioxide released from the combustion of our biofuel would be returned to the natural carbon cycle through photosynthesis. Cellulose produced through the photosynthesis could again be turned into biopropane, the Fuel for the Future.