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KAIST announced a novel technology to produce gasoline by a metabolically engineered microorganism
A major scientific breakthrough in the development of renewable energy sources and other important chemicals; The research team succeeded in producing 580 mg of gasoline per liter of cultured broth by converting in vivo generated fatty acids For many decades, we have been relying on fossil resources to produce liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and many industrial and consumer chemicals for daily use. However, increasing strains on natural resources as well as environmental issues including global warming have triggered a strong interest in developing sustainable ways to obtain fuels and chemicals. Gasoline, the petroleum-derived product that is most widely used as a fuel for transportation, is a mixture of hydrocarbons, additives, and blending agents. The hydrocarbons, called alkanes, consist only of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Gasoline has a combination of straight-chain and branched-chain alkanes (hydrocarbons) consisted of 4-12 carbon atoms linked by direct carbon-carbon bonds. Previously, through metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli (E. coli), there have been a few research results on the production of long-chain alkanes, which consist of 13-17 carbon atoms, suitable for replacing diesel. However, there has been no report on the microbial production of short-chain alkanes, a possible substitute for gasoline. In the paper (entitled "Microbial Production of Short-chain Alkanes") published online in Nature on September 29, a Korean research team led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) reported, for the first time, the development of a novel strategy for microbial gasoline production through metabolic engineering of E. coli. The research team engineered the fatty acid metabolism to provide the fatty acid derivatives that are shorter than normal intracellular fatty acid metabolites, and introduced a novel synthetic pathway for the biosynthesis of short-chain alkanes. This allowed the development of platform E. coli strain capable of producing gasoline for the first time. Furthermore, this platform strain, if desired, can be modified to produce other products such as short-chain fatty esters and short-chain fatty alcohols. In this paper, the Korean researchers described detailed strategies for 1) screening of enzymes associated with the production of fatty acids, 2) engineering of enzymes and fatty acid biosynthetic pathways to concentrate carbon flux towards the short-chain fatty acid production, and 3) converting short-chain fatty acids to their corresponding alkanes (gasoline) by introducing a novel synthetic pathway and optimization of culture conditions. Furthermore, the research team showed the possibility of producing fatty esters and alcohols by introducing responsible enzymes into the same platform strain. Professor Sang Yup Lee said, "It is only the beginning of the work towards sustainable production of gasoline. The titer is rather low due to the low metabolic flux towards the formation of short-chain fatty acids and their derivatives. We are currently working on increasing the titer, yield and productivity of bio-gasoline. Nonetheless, we are pleased to report, for the first time, the production of gasoline through the metabolic engineering of E. coli, which we hope will serve as a basis for the metabolic engineering of microorganisms to produce fuels and chemicals from renewable resources." This research was supported by the Advanced Biomass Research and Development Center of Korea (ABC-2010-0029799) through the Global Frontier Research Program of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) through the National Research Foundation (NRF), Republic of Korea. Systems metabolic engineering work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Changes on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries (NRF-2012-C1AAA001-2012M1A2A2026556) by MSIP through NRF. Short-Chain Alkanes Generated from Renewable Biomass This diagram shows the metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the production of short-chain alkanes (gasoline) from renewable biomass. Nature Cover Page (September 29th, 2013)
Collaboration with Korea Institute of Energy Research
KAIST and the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) agreed on September 4th to further collaboration on energy research such as the development of nano-based hybrid solar cells, bio-fuels, artificial photosynthesis, and carbon dioxide reduction. The two institutions will select 11 research projects to focus on their cooperation. President Steve Kang (in the right) stood with Jooho Whang, the president of KIER (in the left), holding the signed memorandum of understanding.
KAIST and Saudi Aramco agreed to establish a joint CO2 research center in Korea
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Saudi Aramco, a global energy and petrochemicals enterprise, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on January 6, 2013 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and pledged to jointly collaborate in research and development of innovative technologies and solutions to address the world"s energy challenges. Under the MOU, the two entities agreed to establish a research center, Saudi Aramco-KAIST CO2 Research Center, near KAIST"s main campus in Daejeon, Korea. The research center, to be jointly managed by KAIST and Saudi Aramco, will foster and facilitate research collaborations in areas such as tackling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by removal or capture of CO2, conversing CO2 into useful products, developing efficiency improvements in energy production, sharing carbon management technologies, establishing exchange programs, and conducting joint projects. According to Saudi Aramco, the company"s collaboration with KAIST is the first partnership established in Asia. Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said, "The CO2 Research Center represents a major step in Saudi Aramco"s research and technology strategy to partner with top global institutions to help address and find sustainable solutions to the world’s energy challenge both domestically and internationally."
3rd EEWS CEO Forum Held
KAIST EEWS (Energy Environment Water and Sustainability) held the 3rd EEWS CEO Forum at KAIST Seoul Campus. EEWS is a research/education project initiated by KAIST to solve the global issues that the world faces including issues such as: energy depletion, global warming, water shortage, and sustainable development. The 3rd EEWS CEO Forum is dedicated to providing the opportunity to share the vision and experience on technology and policy for green growth. The forum was founded in 2011 with active participation from Woo Ki Jeong (Director of Statistics), Choi Kwang Sik (Korea City Airport, Logistics and Travel, CEO), Kang Young Joong (Daekyo Group, CEO), Yoo Kyung Sun (Eugene Group, CEO), all experts in the field of green growth. The forum consisted of presentations and debate on topics such as: international outlook on green growth, development projects based on new renewable energy, battery of electric vehicles, and development of solar cells. Kim Sang Hyup member of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth started off the series of lectures with the topic of ‘International Outlook on Green Growth’. Kim Joong Gyum CEO of KEPCO followed up with ‘the Future of Electricity Generation Industry and Renewable Energy’, Kim Soo Ryung Director of LG Chemicals gave a talk on ‘Electric Vehicles and the Future of the Battery Industry’, and finally Choi Gi Hyuk CEO of SDN Ltd. gave the final lecture on ‘the Inflection Point of Solar Cell Industry’.
KAIST researchers verify and control the mechanical properties of graphene
KAIST researchers have successfully verified and controlled the mechanical properties of graphene, a next-generation material. Professor Park Jung Yong from the EEWS Graduate School and Professor Kim Yong Hyun from the Graduate School of Nanoscience and Technology have succeeded in fluorinating a single atomic-layered graphene sample and controlling its frictional and adhesive properties. This is the first time the frictional properties of graphene have been examined at the atomic level, and the technology is expected to be applied to nano-sized robots and microscopic joints. Graphene is often dubbed “the dream material” because of its ability to conduct high amounts of electricity even when bent, making it the next-generation substitute for silicon semiconductors, paving the way for flexible display and wearable computer technologies. Graphene also has high potential applications in mechanical engineering because of its great material strength, but its mechanical properties remained elusive until now. Professor Park’s research team successfully produced individual graphene samples with fluorine-deficiency at the atomic level by placing the samples in Fluoro-xenon (XeF2) gas and applying heat. The surface of the graphene was scanned using a micro probe and a high vacuum atomic microscope to measure its dynamic properties. The research team found that the fluorinated graphene sample had 6 times more friction and 0.7 times more adhesiveness than the original graphene. Electrical measurements confirmed the fluorination process, and the analysis of the findings helped setup the theory of frictional changes in graphene. Professor Park stated that “graphene can be used for the lubrication of joints in nano-sized devices” and that this research has numerous applications such as the coating of graphene-based microdynamic devices. This research was published in the online June edition of Nano Letters and was supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Education and the National Research Foundation as part of the World Class University (WCU) program.
Inexpensive Separation Method of Graphene Developed
The problem with commercializing graphene that is synthesized onto metals over a wide area is that it can not be separated from the metal. However, a groundbreaking separation technology which is both cheap and environment friendly has been developed. Prof. Taek soo Kim and Prof. Byung Jin Cho"s research teams have conducted this research under the support of the Global Frontier program and Researcher Support Program initiated by The Ministry of Education and Science and Korea Research Foundation. The research results have been posted on the online news flash of Nano Letters on februrary 29th. (Thesis title: Direct Measurement of Adhesion Energy of Monolayer Graphene As-Grown on Copper and Its Application to Renewable Transfer Process) The research has generated exact results on the interfacial adhesive energy of graphene and its surface material for the first time. Through this, the catalyst metal are no longer to be used just once, but will be used for an infinite number of times, thereby being ecofriendly and efficient. Wide area graphine synthesized onto the catalyst meatal are used in various ways such as for display and for solar cells. There has been much research going on in this field. However, in order to use this wide area graphene, the graphene must be removed from the catalyst metal without damage. Until now, the metal had been melted away through the use of chemical substances in order to separate the graphene. However, this method has been very problematic. The metal can not be reused, the costs are very high, much harmful wastes were created in the process of melting the metals, and the process was very complicated. The research teams of Professors Taek Su Kim and Byung Jin Cho measured the interfacial adhesive energy of the synthesized graphene and learned that it could be easily removed. Also, the mechanically removed graphene was successfully used in creating molecular electronic devices directly. This has thus innovatively shortened the graphene manufacturing process. Also, it has been confirmed that the metalic board can be reused multiple times after the graphene is removed. A new, ecofriendly and cost friendly method of graphene manufacturing has been paved. Through this discovery, it is expected that graphene will become easier to manufacture and that the period til the commercialization date of graphene will therefore be greatly reduced Prof. Cho stated " This reserach has much academical meaning significance in that it has successfully defined the surfacial adhesive energy between the graphene and its catalyst material and it should receive much attention in that it solved the largest technical problem involved in the production of graphene.
Exhibition of Investment Demonstration on EEWS Research Held
- Five winners of business-planning project exhibition hold exhibition towards thirteen Angel Investors. Venture capital firm and industry investors are investing for themselves on the Green Growth Project of KAIST, which strives for solutions of global issues, such as; energy depletion, environment pollution and sustainable development. KAIST awarded the winner of "EEWS business-planning exhibition competition" and held investment demonstration exhibition. The exhibition is opened by the winners of the competition and held towards the firms and inventors encouraging capital on green business project and green technologies. The venture capital firms that participated in this exhibition were; Coolidge Corner Investment, Dae-Duk Investment Corp, KPM, Locus Capital Partners and Bo-Gwang Investment. The industry investors that participated were: Samsung C&T Corp, Cheil Industry, Dasan Networks, Hanhwa L&C, thirteen companies in total. The goal of EEWS Exhibition is to encourage the commercialization of research and development. It was co-hosted by DFJ Athena LLC and Ilshin ventures. The competition was divided into business planning section and business technology section. Grand prize on green growth went to Professor Joong-Myeon Bae who suggested "Eco-friendly hydrogen fuel cells", runner-up prize went to "Real-time measuring of NOx on Eco-friendly diesels" by Jin-Su Park, the technology director of CIOS. Grand prize of green technology went to "Highly-refractive, heat resisting hybrimer LED sack’ by Byung-Su Bae, professor of new material engineering, participation award went to ‘ITO-Free touch screen for smart phone’ by Min-yang Yang, professor of the department of Mechanical Engineering. A representative of KAIST said those of the firms and investors who have gone through commercialization showed interest on the creativity and the high level of the product. Jae-Kyu Lee, the head of EEWS who supervised the whole exhibition mentioned that, "EEWS Planning Group is consistently going to come up with innovative results” and that “Angel Investors showed enthusiasm. The representatives of Venture capital firm even considered participating as the jury of the competition in the future.” [Definition] EEWS stands for Energy depletion, Environment pollution, Water shortages and Sustainability, a project for the solution of such global issues promoted by KAIST.
Cancer detection from an implantable, flexible LED
Professor Keon Jae Lee A KAIST research team has developed a new type of biocompatible and bendable GaN LED biosensor. Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, August 8, 2011—Can a flexible LED conformably placed on the human heart, situated on the corrugated surface of the human brain, or rolled upon the blood vessels, diagnose or even treat various diseases? These things might be a reality in the near future. The team of Professor Keon Jae Lee (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, KAIST) has developed a new concept: a biocompatible, flexible Gallium Nitride (GaN) LED that can detect prostate cancer. GaN LED, a highly efficient light emitting device, has been commercialized in LED TVs and in the lighting industry. Until now, it has been difficult to use this semiconductor material to fabricate flexible electronic systems due to its brittleness. The research team, however, has succeeded in developing a highly efficient, flexible GaN LED and in detecting cancer using a flexible LED biosensor. Prof. Lee was involved in the first co-invention of "High Performance Flexible Single Crystal GaN" during his PhD course at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). This flexible GaN LED biosensor utilized a similar protocol to transfer thin GaN LED films onto flexible substrates, followed by a biocompatible packaging process; the system’s overall potential for use in implantable biomedical applications was demonstrated. Professor John Roger (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, UIUC) said, “Bio-integrated LEDs represent an exciting, new technology with strong potential to address important challenges in human health. This present work represents a very nice contribution to this emerging field.” This paper was published in the online issue of Nano Energy Elsevier Journal (Editor, Prof. Zhong Lin Wang) dated September 16, 2011. Flexible GaN LED produces blue light.
New Scientist: Wind power harnesses the energy of galloping, June 2, 2011
Researchers from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, KAIST, released their research results in Smart Materials and Structures on ways to “harness strange properties of turbulent airs.” They built a prototype that produces energy using a specific type of unstable airflow called “wake galloping.” New Scientist wrote an article about the paper, which appeared on June 2, 2011. For the article, please follow the link below. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028145.700-wind-power-harnesses-the-energy-of-galloping.html?full=true&print=true
Oh Myung Chairman of the Board gives Special Lecture in the S+ Convergence AMP Program
Chairman Oh Myung (CEO of Woong Jin Energy Poly Silicon) gave a special lecture in the KAIST S+ Convergence AMP Program with the topic of ’Dream of a Korea 30 years into the future’. Chairman Oh insisted to the program attendees that they do their best in developing Korea through development of new technology and IT and that he considers education and development of new technology as the reason for Korea’s rapid development. The program invites a guest speaker every month, apart from the planed lectures. The guest speakers were the top of their respective fields. In addition, various activities like riding the OLEV or domestic workshops or educational trips abroad imparted the ability to take on a global perspective.
A Light Weight, Energy Effcient Household Polysomnography (PSG) System Developed
A smart ‘household polysomnography (PSG) system’ was developed by domestic research team. Professor Yoo Hui Joon and his research team of KAIST’s department of Electricity and Electronic Engineering successfully developed a PSG system that is light weight and has high performance levels. The conventional PSG systems were complex with numerous lines and wires. The PSG is used to monitor biological signals during sleep and the monitored results are used to diagnose and cure sleep-related illnesses and disorders. However because of restrictions like the size of the machine, impurities, and the change in environment, multiple trials over several days were required to obtain accurate data. The system developed by the research team is lighter than a q-tip so as to not disturb the patient’s sleep. It also has Intelligent Circuit (IC) that detects when sensors come detached and automatically replaces the sensor with another sensor thereby allowing continual monitoring of the user. A low-power consuming circuit was implemented allowing the entire system to run continuously on a single coin battery for 10 hours which effectively decreased the weight of the system and simultaneously allows for uninterrupted monitoring of the user over the entire sleep cycle. Even a remote diagnosis system can be implemented. The user will don the PSG and sleep at home, ensuring that a normal heat beat rate, brain waves, breathing, etc. will be monitored. The data procured overnight can be sent to the experts online who will be able to diagnose remotely. The research team plans on performing research in cooperation with the KAIST hospital and U-Healthcare research. The research result is winning worldwide rave. The system was announced in the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) and was published in ISSCC magazine and in Japan’s NIKKEI Electronics January edition.
International Workshop on EEWS 2010 was held.
On October 7 and 8th at Fusion Hall of KI Building, KAIST, the 2010 International Workshop on EEWS (Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability) was held. The third to be held, forty national and international academic professionals including Mark Shannon, professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Domen Kazunari, Tokyo University professor, Dong Sub Kim, CTO of SK Energy and Doyoung Seung, Senior Vice President of GS Caltex, participated at this year’s workshop. In twelve sessions, themes including Artificial Photosynthesis, Wireless Power Transfer, Green Aviation, Safe Nuclear Fuel Reuse, Fuel Cells in Action, LED 2.0, Foundation of Energy-Water Nexus, and Flexible Battery & Solar Cell were presented and discussed. “Through this workshop, current EEWS policy and research progress from different countries and the future of related technologies will be foreseen,” said Jae Kyu Lee, Dean of KAIST EEWS Initiative. “I hope it became an opportunity to create cooperative relationships with leading researchers.” EEWS is a research project conducted by KAIST to solve global issues that mankind faces today such as depletion of energy, environmental pollution, water shortage, and sustainability.
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