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The findings would make ethanol from grasses and farm/logging waste much easier to obtain, making these more viable sources for alternative energy. "Genetically engineered bacteria could make cellulosic ethanol cheaper to manufacture," said the Reuters report.
Naturally occurring bacteria can also ferment cellulose but they do it at lower temperatures that require the use of an expensive enzyme called cellulase, said Lynd.
The newly engineered bacterium, known as ALK2, can ferment all the sugars present in biomass and can do it at 122°F, compared with conventional microbes that cannot function above 98.6°F. At higher temperatures, the fermentation process required two and a half times less cellulase in one controlled experiment, Lynd told Reuters.
The report also noted that "[d]oing it the natural way produces organic acids in addition to the ethanol, while ethanol is the only organic product of fermentation with the new bacteria."