Skip to Content

How Coskata Makes Biofuels

A versatile new process for making biofuels could slash their cost.
February 19, 2008
In the version of the reactor that’s currently in operation, water flows around thin fibers coated with colonies of bacteria.
Since the fibers shown here are hollow, they can deliver gases that feed the bacteria. The bacteria convert these gases into ethanol, which flows out of the bioreactor mixed with water.
The water is removed to yield fuel-grade ethanol that’s 99.7 percent pure.
Coskata’s ethanol­-producing bacteria can’t breathe oxygen, so researchers working to improve them use sealed, atmosphere­-­controlled hoods shown here.
Getting the most from the bacteria means optimizing the nutrition they receive. So the researchers grow the bacteria in a suspended culture (large flasks) and feed them different mixes of nutrients (small bottles with red caps) to determine which combinations result in the highest levels of ethanol production.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

wet market selling fish
wet market selling fish

This scientist now believes covid started in Wuhan’s wet market. Here’s why.

How a veteran virologist found fresh evidence to back up the theory that covid jumped from animals to humans in a notorious Chinese market—rather than emerged from a lab leak.

light and shadow on floor
light and shadow on floor

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation

The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.

masked travellers at Heathrow airport
masked travellers at Heathrow airport

We still don’t know enough about the omicron variant to panic

The variant has caused alarm and immediate border shutdowns—but we still don't know how it will respond to vaccines.

This new startup has built a record-breaking 256-qubit quantum computer

QuEra Computing, launched by physicists at Harvard and MIT, is trying a different quantum approach to tackle impossibly hard computational tasks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.