Algae tweaked to produce both biofuel and nanocellulose

Scientists announced a new, and potentially groundbreaking method for producing nanocellulose — a so-called "wonder material" derived from tree fiber that could be used to create ultra-thin displays, lightweight body armor, and a wide range of other products.Their key ingredient? Algae.

Dr. R. Malcolm Brown, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, presented his team's findings at an American Chemical Society conference in New Orleans on Sunday, heralding their progress as a major step toward "one of the most important discoveries in plant biology."

Brown's method, by contrast, is vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly, requiring only sunlight, water, and algae. By genetically engineering vinegar bacterium into blue-green algae, Brown's lab has effectively created organic factories capable of making nanocellulose on a potentially industrial scale.

In the process of having algae chomp through wood pulp to make nanocellulose, it's possible to rig the process—by tweaking the DNA of the helpful little bugs—to create biofuel at the same time. 

Source: theverge.comAdded: 9 April 2013