Lab develops carbon-neutral biological solutions to replace fuels, chemicals

Written by
Adam Hadhazy, School of Engineering and Applied Science
April 7, 2020

Princeton University researchers are using bioengineering techniques to develop carbon-neutral renewable fuels that are competitive with fossil fuels and more sustainable.

José Avalos, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment — together with his postdocs and students — has developed methods to improve the productivity of microbes used in the creation of biofuels.

Avalos wields an array of tools, including light-activated genes, to tailor the metabolisms of yeast and bacteria. These modified microbes go on to produce chemicals including fuels, commodity chemicals and drug precursors.

The overriding goal of Avalos’ research is to reduce, and eventually eliminate dependence on petroleum, the traditional feedstock for these materials.

“We want to move toward the concept of a ‘bioeconomy,’ where polluting fossil fuels are replaced by carbon-neutral biological processes,” Avalos said. 

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