Bacteria turns Carbon Dioxide into Liquid Fuel

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2009) — In a new approach, researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume carbon dioxide and produce the liquid fuel isobutanol , which holds great potential as a gasoline alternative. The reaction is powered directly by energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis.

The research appears in the Dec. 9 print edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology and is available online.

This new method has two advantages for the long-term, global-scale goal of achieving a cleaner and greener energy economy, the researchers say. First, it recycles carbon dioxide, reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. Second, it uses solar energy to convert the carbon dioxide into a liquid fuel that can be used in the existing energy infrastructure, including in most automobiles.

While other alternatives to gasoline include deriving biofuels from plants or from algae, both of these processes require several intermediate steps before refinement into usable fuels.

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