This new genetically engineered bacteria can take CO2 out of the air and convert it into energy. And while it won’t fix our excess CO2 problem, but it could help preserve our fossil fuels.
The bacteria was genetically engineered to absorbs hydrogen and carbon dioxide and convert them into alcohol fuel. The goal was to achieve a significant level of efficiency that could surpass plants. And this month, the researchers announced that the bacteria can also convert sunlight 10 times more efficiently than plants.
“Right now we’re making isopropanol, isobutanol, isopentanol,” said lead researcher Daniel G Nocera from Harvard University, in a lecture to the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago. “These are all alcohols you can burn directly. And it’s coming from hydrogen from split water, and it’s breathing in CO2. That’s what this bug’s doing.”
The bacteria, called Ralston eutropha, takes hydrogen and CO2 then converts it into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by inserting genes that will allow the ATP to convert to alcohol fuel.
The practical applications of a bacteria that can breathe in CO2 and produce energy are unlimited.
With the results of the study soon to be published, Nocera is hoping to get more people excited about how it can continue to be applied for practical purposes.
He makes it a point to explain that this isn’t the solution to the excess CO2 in the atmosphere; it can, however, help preserve our quickly depleting fossil fuels.