Microbes can provide sustainable hydrocarbons for the petrochemical industry
The petrochemical industry turns oil and gas into precursors used to synthesize lubricants and other critical products. Chemists show that bacteria can be metabolically engineered to generate similar precursors, providing a sustainable replacement for fossil fuels and using less energy. The microbes need only glucose. The medium-chain hydrocarbons they produce can be broken down into shorter chains and polymerized into plastics, or lengthened to make products such as diesel.