The U.S. consumes ~16 million barrels of petroleum per day (U.S. Energy Information Administration), approximately 1/3rd of which could be replaced by the renewable fuel, biodiesel. Using biochemical engineering strategies, we enhanced the production of biodiesel from the green microalgae species, Chlorella vulgaris (Figure 3), by 6-fold (40% oil by weight; 70 mg of oil/L-day). These studies suggest potential bottlenecks or genetic engineering targets for increasing biodiesel production. We propose to increase the volumetric production rate more directly through genetic engineering. Our overall vision is to improve the economics of biodiesel production through cultivation of microalgae engineered with increased oil biosynthesis.
Funded by the Massachusetts Catalyst Program.