Background: Increasing energy costs and environmental concerns have emphasized the need to produce sustainable renewable fuels and chemicals. Fatty acids energy-rich primary metabolites are composed of long alkyl chains and used by cells for chemical and energy storage functions. They represent nature’s “petroleum” and can be isolated from plant and animal oils for the production of fuels and oleochemicals. biodiesel a major biologically produced long chain product is almost exclusively derived from plant oils today. Two major drawbacks of deriving biodiesel from plant oil are the slow cycle time for engineering oil seed metabolism and the excessive accumulation of glycerol as a byproduct. Biosynthesis of fatty acids in bacteria is tightly regulated at multiple levels limiting the quantity that can be made by bacteria and thus making this production route expensive. Technology Description: Researchers at Rice University have genetically engineered microorganisms capable of producing high yields of fatty acids. By the manipulation of the transcription factor(s) and selected genes from the fatty acid biosynthesis degradation and/or central metabolic pathways fatty acid productivity and yield in these genetically engineered microorganisms can be increased significantly and cost-effectively. Applications: 1) This process can find potential applications in the cost-effective production of biodiesel for use as fuel in vehicles generating electricity and bioheating systems for buildings. 2) Additionally this process can provide fatty acids as feedstocks for further processing and production of hydrocarbons fatty alcohols hydroxyl fatty acids and dicarboxylic acids. Patent Status: PCT patent application (PCT/US2012/06471) Opportunity for collaboration: This invention is available for licensing from Rice University.This technology has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale.
1) This process can be used to produce fatty acids from renewable sources with higher productivity and yield (close to maximum theoretical yields). 2) This invention can potentially enable the efficient production of other products derived from free fatty acids and/or products that can be branched out from the fatty acid synthesis pathways.
PCT patent application (PCT/ US201206471) Opportunity for collaboration: This invention is available for licensing from Rice University. This technology has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale.