Engineers and biologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, US have developed an alternative method to replace ethanol in bio-fuel production.

The researchers developed a method to significantly enhance the production of isobutanol, a heavy alcohol found in yeast, as a possible alternative for gasoline.

Yeast cells were engineered to propel isobutanol synthesis, which has more energy than ethanol and is compatible with gasoline-based infrastructure.

Production of isobutanol thereby enhanced by about 260%, which is although still short of the scale required for industrial production.

MIT chemical engineering professor Gregory Stephanopoulos told Science Daily that this is a potential approach to develop not only isobutanol but also other useful chemicals.

"It’s not specific to isobutanol. It’s opening up the opportunity to make a lot of biochemicals inside an organelle that may be much better suited for this purpose compared to the cytosol of the yeast cells.

Details of the research were published in the 17 February 2013 online edition of Nature Biotechnology.

The paper’s lead author Avalos remarked that in the past, researchers tried to decrease isobutanol production in yeast as it interferes with the flavor of wine and beer, but there has been a recent push to produce it for fuel and other chemical purposes.