A team of U.S. researchers have developed a new way to generate alternative fuel from bacteria. They have genetically modified bacteria to eat CO2 and produce isobutyraldehyde, which can further be used to produce isobutanol.
What is amazing at their experiment is that the modified bacteria are powered by sunlight, being highly efficient in the conversion process. So, in the future the researchers want to set up colonies near to industrial plants. This would allow greenhouse gases to be recycled into useful chemical feedstock, supplying several hydrocarbons that are typically obtained from petroleum.
Scientists found that microalgae and cyanobacteria consume CO2 for a long time but none generate any liquid molecules that can easily be used as fuel. “Here, we were successful in engineering CO2-eating bacteria to produce isobutyraldehyde very efficiently,” says James Liao, who led the work at the University of California, Los Angeles, US. “Our process is around 10 times faster than hydrogen production and about 100 times faster than genetically engineered ethanol production.” Liao said that the process will be not commercialized soon, because further research needs to be done.