This week, International Space Station crew members are beginning work on an investigation aimed at evaluating pathways to enhance the biological production of the biofuel isobutene. The payload, which was developed by the University of Alaska, launched to the ISS National Lab on Orbital ATK CRS-9 last Monday.
Isobutene is a key precursor for many products such as plastics and rubber and is primarily produced through petrochemical processes. This project is aimed at examining genetically engineered E. coli bacteria in microgravity to better understand the metabolic pathways involved in the bacteria’s production of isobutene. The research team hopes to identify pathways that could be genetically modified to increase bioproduction rates of isobutene.
Learn more about this project and some of the other ISS National Lab payloads that launched to the space station on Orbital ATK CRS-9 in the video below.