Scientists say they have found a way to make a renewable alternative to fossil fuels from bacteria commonly found in the human gut.
British and Finnish researchers have engineered E.coli bacteria to create a renewable form of propane. The move could pave the way for what is usually a byproduct of petrol refining and natural-gas processing to be a sustainable replacement for diesel and petrol.
"We've only made milligrams so far," said Dr Patrik Jones, of Imperial College London, co-author of a paper on the research results published in the journal Nature Communications.
"But, as far as we know, this is the first time we have a renewable way of producing a chemically identical molecule that we otherwise only have available from fossil fuel reservoirs."
Although the amount of fuel produced so far is tiny, it is ready to be used in an engine immediately.
Propane currently makes up the bulk of liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which can be used to fuel anything from a car to a camping stove or a central-heating unit.