Fuels Synthesis

In the Fuels Synthesis division, researchers are engineering microbes to transform sugars into energy-rich biofuels. JBEI’s pioneering work in synthetic biology has enabled microbes to produce a variety of molecules from these sugars that can serve as jet, diesel, and gasoline blendstocks.

Research Challenges

  • Developing and optimizing metabolic pathways for biofuel production
  • Optimizing host organisms to utilize all biomass sugars and efficiently convert them to fuels
  • Understanding fuel/biomass toxicity and engineering cells to tolerate them
  • Developing synthetic biology tools for engineering biology
  • Developing computational methods to model microbial metabolism through flux-based mechanistic models and machine learning

Researchers in JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division are engineering new strains of yeast, the common single-cell organism used in baking bread and making beer, to more quickly and efficiently ferment the sugars derived from cellulosic biomass into biofuels. They are using the latest, most advanced tools of biotechnology including synthetic biology, to engineer new biochemical pathways for the production of fuel molecules and chemicals that are currently derived from petroleum. The goal is to produce fuels and other valuable chemical products from simple, inexpensive and renewable starting materials in a sustainable manner.