E. coli is an exceedingly common bacteria that lives in many places including your very own gut. It's also a favorite organism for synthetic biologists looking to engineer useful microbes. By inserting just a few genes in E. coli, scientists have found they can coax the bacterium into making ready-to-use propane.
You might not realize it, but quitting our addiction to oil means more than just finding something besides gasoline to put in our cars. If we really want to stop using fossil fuels, we have to change the way we make roads—and cooking oil might just be the answer.
Be excited, Earthlings, because science has a surprise for you. Engineers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have devised a way to turn algae into crude oil in less than an hour. That oil can then be refined into gasoline that can run engines.
Earlier this week, IBM researchers announced a discovery that could lead to plastics made from plants instead of petroleum. The new plastics will be more energy efficient, more versatile, and infinitely recyclable (until we move to our space colony).