- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Converting tobacco into cigarettes is a dwindling industry, so scientists are looking for an alternative use for the product grown by tobacco farmers, said an article in the New York Times Green Blog.
Peggy Lemaux, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley, shared the idea at the annual meeting of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, an agency founded to nurture interesting energy ideas that may or may not work.
Some bacteria and algae turn sunlight into oils that can be burned in a car engine or used as raw material at a refinery in place of crude oil. A research consortium that includes the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley and the University of Kentucky has taken genes from those types of bacteria and algae and inserted them into tobacco plants. In the first year of work, the efforts produced a crop and organic solvents were used to extract the oils out of the leaves.
For an overview, see the video below: