Thursday, January 20, 2011

E Coli

Man, the E Coli bacterium is one versatile thing. Not only can it serve as secondary storage in a computer:
E. coli gets a bad rap – probably due to the violent illness it induces – but a group of Chinese University students in Hong Kong have found a novel and potentially reputation-changing use for the bacteria: data storage. The team has devised a way to encrypt and store information in the DNA of bacteria to such an effective degree that they say just one gram of E. coli could store the same amount of data as 450 two-terabyte hard drives.
it can also produce oil:
In September, a privately held and highly secretive U.S. biotech company named Joule Unlimited received a patent for “a proprietary organism” – a genetically adapted E. coli bacterium – that feeds solely on carbon dioxide and excretes liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline. This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil. It will deliver, the company says, “fossil fuels on demand.”