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Free Fatty Acids from Renewable Carbon Sources

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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 selected genes from the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway fatty acid productivity and yield in these genetically engineered microorganisms can be increased significantly and cost-effectively. Applications: 1) Biodiesel for use as fuel in vehicles 2) Generating electricity and bioheating systems for buildings 3) Feedstocks for further processing and production of hydrocarbons fatty alcohols hydroxyl fatty acids and dicarboxylic acidsPatent Status:US 13/635867


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.

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