Bacteria Eat Waste and Poop Out Oil

The idea of getting bacteria to synthesize petroleum is not new, but $140 a barrel oil is breathing new life to the quest. Here's a story of LS9, a start-up company that wants to genetically engineer bacteria to eat waste and excrete oil:

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.


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Unfortunately, if this worked, the demand for oil would probably outstrip the supply of agricultural waste. We couldn't use it for compost, and we'd have to start growing new plant matter for these bugs... and then we'd run into the same problem as ethanol: competing with our cars for food.
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Awesome, I hope it works!! But hopefully its not...

1) Announce a new energy-related breakthrough technology(or perhaps take an old one, and repackage it.)

2) Claim that once some minor kinks are worked out, it will be a solution to the world's energy woes and a bonanza for investors.

3) Promote the technology heavily, especially to gullible, wide-eyed reporters without a science background, the type that do not raise practical questions about scalability, cost-benefit analysis, etc.

4) Solicit "startup money" from investors, and let them know that they will be in on the ground floor.

5) Shift and commingle funds through a confusing network of bank accounts. Announce some tantalizing preliminary results, but request more money to finish the "last mile".

6) Disappear to a tropical country with a favorable legal structure, siphon off some of your winnings for legal defense against disgruntled investors ("I never promised them it would work, it was always risky").

7) Resurface years later with plastic surgery; repeat.
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