Washington, August 7 : University of Sheffield researchers say that they have moved a step closer to producing fuel from bacteria.
Writing about their study in the journal Bioinformatics, the researchers said that their study could have significant implications for the environment, and the way sustainable fuels would be produced in the future.
The researchers used mathematical computer models to map the metabolism - a huge sequence of chemical reactions that transform nutrients into energy and waste - of a type of bacteria called Nostoc.
According to them, Nostoc fixes nitrogen and, in doing so, releases hydrogen that can then potentially be used as fuel.
The researchers say that their new computer system has helped them figure out how the bacterium fixes nitrogen to produce the energy it needs in order to perform its functions.
Dr Guido Sanguinetti, from the University's Department of Computer Science, who led the study, said: "The research uncovered a previously unknown link between the energy machinery of the Nostoc bacterium and its core nitrogen metabolism. Further investigation of this pathway might lead to understanding and improvement of the hydrogen production mechanism of these bacteria. It will certainly be some time before a pool of bacteria powers your car, but this research is yet another small step towards sustainable fuels."
He added: " The next step for us will be further investigation into hydrogen production, as well as constructing more mathematical models capable of integrating various sources of biological data."