NASA’s space shuttle has to reach speeds of almost 18,000 miles per hour (29,000 kilometers per hour) in only 8.5 minutes. That’s necessary for it to reach outer space. That’s 300 times faster than a car traveling at 60 mph (97 km/h)! To reach these speeds, rockets need particularly high-energy fuels. It’s the same for airplanes and cargo ships, too.
At the moment, these high-energy fuels are made using petroleum – a fossil fuel, and the leading cause of global climate change. So, there’s an urgent need for scientists to develop more sustainable high-energy fuels.
We explored whether bacteria could make molecules we could turn into high-energy biofuels. We looked into bacterial DNA and used clever chemistry to produce new biofuels using Streptomyces bacteria. These “POP biofuels” seem to be even better (higher energy) than the current petroleum-made rocket fuels!