US Navy grows bacteria to make jet fuel from seawater

The US Navy is thinking about finding a new, environmentally friendly and the cheapest source of fuel for jet engines. The navy has been skeptical about green energy and is instead willing to invest in genetic engineering and microbiology. In particular, in the cultivation of bacteria that convert salty seawater into an analogue of crude oil.

The US military is openly opposed to using biofuels for the military, as it creates dangerous dependence and vulnerability. To get a couple of tanks of fuel from rapeseed or rosehip oil, you need to sow huge fields, wait for the harvest, collect it and process it. It is expensive, time consuming and risky, but the rate on oil no longer works - the world has taken the trend towards environmentally friendly power plants.

A solution was found in the use of bacteria Halomonas, which in the 1980s were recognized as one of the most salt-tolerant and readily reproduce in seawater. Scientists at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, funded by the US Navy, have reengineered the Halomonas genome to make them produce chemical compounds similar to hydrocarbons in crude oil.

However, this was the previous stage, now scientists reason like this: if we taught bacteria to make a substitute for oil, then why not force them to immediately produce ready-made fuel? Or at least the key components to it, which can be mixed without complicated processing and get the desired product. This is not an easy task - but science has advanced very far in the field of genome editing, so work continues. Ideally, developers want clean rocket fuel straight from seawater.