Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory masthead A-Z Index Berkeley Lab masthead U.S. Department of Energy logo Phone Book Jobs Search
Tech Transfer

Licensing Interest Form Receive Customized Tech Alerts

Engineered Biosynthesis of Alternative Biodiesel Fuel in E. Coli and Yeast




  • Production of a biofuel alternative to ethanol
  • Production of microbe-based biodiesel
  • Development of metabolic pathways to produce isoprenoid fuels and other commodity chemicals


  • Combustion qualities comparable to biodiesel
  • Fuel molecule size can be adjusted for either gasoline or diesel compatibility


Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have invented a method of producing biofuel molecules that are an alternative to ethanol. Specifically, the JBEI method produces isoprenyl alkanoates that can be hydrogenated and blended into gasoline or diesel fuel. In addition, the invention includes the design and manipulation of biosynthetic pathways to increase flux for enhanced production of fuel molecules. With additional testing, this technology may be applicable for biogasoline as well.

The JBEI technology utilizes a genetically modified host cell that expresses the enzymes to biosynthesize two hydrocarbons—an isoprenoid and a straight-chain fatty acid—in addition to the enzyme required to condense these into an isoprenyl alkanoate. The genetically modified host cell can be a bacterial or yeast cell line.

Traditional biodiesel is composed of fatty acid methyl esters derived from plant oil. While biodiesel may perform comparably to fossil-derived fuels, synthetically produced molecules with related chemical structures are expected to have improved combustion qualities due to changes in molecular linkages and bonds.

Attention potential SBIR/STTR Program applicants (FY2013, Phase 1 Release 1): Please do not contact researchers directly with technology questions. Go here to learn how you may interact with researchers during the FOA open period.

The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI, is a scientific partnership led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and including the Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. JBEI’s primary scientific mission is to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels.



  • Published patent application WO 2009/006386 available at Available for licensing or collaborative research.

To learn more about licensing a technology from LBNL see



See More Biofuels Technologies