Biofuel Industry News

  • Microorganisms could harvest carbon dioxide from the air, scientists have said

Biofuel news: Microorganisms harvest carbon dioxide from the air

Mar 28 2013 Comments 0

A research team is looking at the possibility of harvesting the carbon dioxide in the air to make biofuel, or other chemicals.

The bacteria Pyrococcus furiosus is being used by a research team from the University of Georgia to convert carbon dioxide in the air directly into a biofuel.

Researchers pointed out that while plants will normally take the carbon dioxide out of the air and convert it into various sugars such as ethanol, this is not an efficient process.

Not only does it take time for the plants to grow, it is also inefficient when it comes to recovering the sugars from the plant, as these can be locked away in cells.

However, the new proposition could take the plants, and the problems that come along with them, out of the equation.

Michael Adams, member of UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute, commented: “Basically, what we have done is create a microorganism that does with carbon dioxide exactly what plants do-absorb it and generate something useful.

“What this discovery means is that we can remove plants as the middleman,”

The expert, who is co-author of the study, which is to be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, added: “We can take carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products like fuels and chemicals without having to go through the inefficient process of growing plants and extracting sugars from biomass.“

The Pyrococcus furiosus microorganism usually lives on carbohydrates that it finds in waters around hyro-thermal vents. However, by modifying its DNA, the researchers were able to get it to feed directly on carbon dioxide and at much lower temperatures.

The scientists then used hydrogen gas to create a chemical reaction in the microorganism which incorporates carbon dioxide at much lower temperatures.

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