A scientist who mapped his genome and the genetic diversity of the oceans said Thursday he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel.
Craig Venter (in the picture), a famous geneticist, announced his “fourth-generation fuel” project at an elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, California. Between the audience was Al Gore and Larry Page, co-founder of Google.
“We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock. We have 20 million genes which I call the design components of the future,” Venter said. “We are limited here only by our imagination.”
He also said that the biofuels are the third generation of fuels, and the fourth will feed with the byproducts of the third.
“If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet,” Venter said. “The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them.”
The genetics of octane-producing organisms can be regulated to increase the amount of CO2 they eat and the amount of octane they output, according to Venter.
Scientists put “suicide genes” into their living creations so that if they escape the lab, they can be triggered to kill themselves.
Venter said he is also working on organisms that make vaccines for the flu and other illnesses.
“We will see an exponential change in the pace of the sophistication of organisms and what they can do,” Venter said.
“We are a ways away from designing people. Our goal is just to make sure they survive long enough to do that.”