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Synthetic Fuel from Carbon Dioxide by Tweaking “Pyrococcus Furiosus” Bacteria

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Deep-Sea Thermal Vent, Home of Chemosynthetic Bacteria Pyrococcus Furiosus
Deep-Sea Thermal Vent, Home of Chemosynthetic Bacteria Pyrococcus Furiosus

Biofuels, synthetic fuels, are made from plants that use photosynthesis to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but what if we could remove the middlemanplant?

Biofuels are essentially carbon-neutral, because they release the same amount of carbon dioxide that was sequestered by the plants that the fuel is synthesized from. Making synthetic fuel by this process though, is complicated and inefficient.

Researchers at University of Georgia have found that there may be a way to remove plants from the equation and simply synthesize fuel directly from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Instead of using photosynthetic plant processes, researchers have turned to the chemosynthetic bacteria that are best known for populating and thriving around deep-sea thermal vents and sea-level hot springs.

Chemosynthetic bacteria such as Pyrococcus Furiosus, rushing fireball, don’t need sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds, but do so in temperatures exceeding 800°F on the pitch-black sea floor. By tweaking the genetic structure of P. Furiosus, researchers succeeded in using it to convert carbon dioxide, at much lower temperatures, into 3-hydroxypropionic acid, a common industrial chemical.

Further genetic tweaks could produce any number of other chemical compounds, including synthetic fuel, directly from atmospheric carbon dioxide. “We can take carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products like synthetic fuels and chemicals without having to go through the inefficient process of growing plants and extracting sugars from biomass,” remarked professor Michael Adams.

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11 COMMENTS

    • AndrewPlanet thanks for the other link. Same story as in University of Georgia’s news [the last link in the posting]

      • bnjroo AndrewPlanet I added the second link to emphasize that it states that in order for Pyrococcus furiosus to produce fuel  it needs to be fed hydrogen.   I wanted to prove that micro organisms by themselves  could produce hydrogen to feed Pyrococcus furiosus without humans having to invest in energy production so as to do this, which would be more costly.

        • AndrewPlanet bnjroo ya know, when i was writing this, i got hooked on liquid carbon dioxide vents and that they wanted to use P Furiosus to convert CO2, there’s a middle step that I didn’t mention, which was the hydrogen component. thanks for pointing it out.

        • bnjroo AndrewPlanet Thank you for the feedback.  I find it improves the way I explain things having to mull things in my mind a bit more.

  1. A number of micro organisms transform what they feed on into either hydrogen or carbon dioxide. Some bacteria + algae produce hydrogen and yeast produces carbon dioxide. I have been wondering for some time now how we could make use of the carbon dioxide produced by yeast, including the resultant heat and now know of Pyrococcus furiosus. I was interested in applying yeast to human waste products be they plant or animal based, as in what goes into a compost heap, or sewage systems. There is an evident ample diversity of organisms to produce the nourishment they all need from each other to eventually create fuel from carbon dioxide. That could be achieved by stacking the organisms and their food sources in subsequent steps of production so as to finally obtain the fuel without any added energy expenditure other than that effected by the micro organisms themselves.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biohydrogen
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast

    • AndrewPlanet Yeast is another great example. They use yeast to make ethanol [for a few thousand years now] so we know the biology is proven. I think the whole point of using P. Furiosus is that they can skip the sugar→ethanol step.
      Application of a multi-layered approach as you describe is interesting and could make use of other untapped sources, like waste treatment plants, landfills, even beer refineries?

      • bnjroo AndrewPlanet Thanks for the info.  I thought the extra heat from yeast producing carbon dioxide might help Pyrococcus furiosus thrive, seeing as it likes heat, and possibly tackle a particular constituent of biomass or sewage sludge, if not all.  If the one type of micro organism cannot chemically breakdown all the constituents of a substance it is fed, in combination with other organisms it might.  That would mean more fuel produced and less waste left over.

        • bnjroo AndrewPlanet Thanks.  This website allows the posting of links which is much better for presenting ideas than the other link I posted which does not allow links to be added on the webpage.  I tried to and I got a notice saying that I was posting spam, even for the Wikipedia links.

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