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Turning CO2 Directly into Transport Fuels

A team of researchers at the University of Georgia, USA, have developed a new method that can turn CO2, which exists in the atmosphere and is a major cause for the global warming that is starting to noticeably affect the planet, into useful products such as chemicals and fuel.

Michael Adams, a member of UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute, explained that they have created “a microorganism that does with carbon dioxide exactly what plants do; absorb it and generate something useful.”

Plants are unable to turn carbon from the atmosphere into sugars which in theory could be used to produce chemicals and fuels, but in reality the starch is incredibly difficult to extract from the plants. By using a microorganism to carry out the process the plants can effectively be cut out as middlemen. Adams states that they “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.”

Related article: Highlighting Global Trends in Carbon Emissions

The team have used a microorganism called Pyrococcus furiosus, which feeds on carbohydrates in the super-heated waters around geothermal vents. They then manipulated the genetics in order to create a form of the organism that could survive and operate efficiently at much lower temperatures. With further genetic tampering the team believe that they can create organisms that can turn the CO2 into, not only sugars, but also directly into transport fuels, as well as other useful products.

Whilst a potentially useful method for creating hydrocarbon fuels in the age of peak oil, it does nothing to help reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere as any fuel burned, that was created by P. furiosus, would release the same amount of CO2 as was removed from the atmosphere during the manufacturing process.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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