Monthly Archives: June 2014

The New Role of Microbes in Bio-Fuel Production




Currently biofuel is produced from plants as well as microbes. The oils, carbohydrates or fats generated by the microbes or plants are refined to produce biofuel. This is a green and renewable energy that helps in conserving fossil-fuel usage. But a new research has led to a new discovery of getting the microbes to produce fuel from the proteins instead of utilizing the protein for its own growth. The research is being done at the premises of University of California in Los Angeles.

The focus of the experiment was to induce the microbes under the study to produce a specific kind of proteins rather than what they otherwise might be inclined to produce. This special protein can be refined in to biofuel. The task is to make the microbes produce only this kind of protein rather than utilizing it for their own growth and growth related activities as they otherwise do.

This kind of biofuel production is different from the traditional behavior of microbes where they use the protein only for growth. This is like tricking the microbes to deviate from that and produce fats or material that can be converted to biofuel. In the words of UCLApostdoctoral student and lead researcher, Yi-xin Huo -”We have to completely redirect the protein utilization system, which is one of the most highly-regulated systems in the cell.”

The Nature Biotechnology Sunday issue has published the team’s findings. The team hopes that their findings will rewrite biofuel production by inundating the field with protein eating microbes which will generate fats and substances that can be converted into biofuel. The microbes will feed on proteins that are not fit for animal consumption and keep producing special proteins for biofuel conversion and later can become a better type if fertilizer with less nitrogen and nil harmful greenhouse emissions.

Tesla Model wins Aerodynamics Comparison


Electric cars are offering car designers a whole new palette to paint upon, as they don’t require the same access to air that combustion engines do. In a recent comparison test by Car & Driver, the Tesla Model S was proven to have the lowest drag coefficient, beating out four aerodynamic competitors.



Car & Driver was able to wrangle five vehicles with some of the best aerodynamics on the market, which included two of the usual suspects, the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf. Another obvious contender was the Chevy Volt, though the new Mercedes CLA “Baby Benz” entered the race as a bit of a dark horse. Then there’s the literal elephant in the room, the biggest and heaviest car there by a wide margin, the Tesla Model S.

Amazingly, the Model S had the lowest front drag area of the whole group, which is a combination of the drag coefficient and frontal area exposed to aerodynamic drag. More drag means more power to push through the wind at higher speeds, and having a low drag coefficient has become key in achieving outstanding levels of fuel economy. The egg-shaped Toyota Prius sets the bar for production cars with a 0.26 drag coefficient, but the Model S edged it out with a 0.24 rating. The Tesla matched the Toyota with 6.2 feet of drag area as well, a remarkable feat for such a large car. The next closest contender was the Chevy Volt, with 6.7 feet of drag area and a drag coefficient of 0.28.

How’d they do it? The biggest advantage the Tesla has over the competition is an air ride suspension that lowers it about 8/10th of an inch during highway speeds, reducing the drag area. by coming closer to the ground. The Model S also has a smooth underbelly, because it lacks an engine bay or exhaust system in a traditional sense. It still requires air cooling, but the Model S has active grille shutters that open and close in accordance with need. The front fascia was also designed to deflect air away from the wheel wells, a traditional source of drag on many cars.

Turns out electric cars like the Tesla can do just about everything better than conventional vehicles, including wind tunnel tests, and with aerodynamics being so key to efficiency these days, EVs are clearly the way to go if you want to build the slipperiest car on the road.