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Bacteria: A New Gasoline Alternative

by Juliane Huang Dec 18, 2009
Scientists at UCLA may have found the solution to our fuel problems.

Recently, supreme research brains at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science discovered a way to genetically modify a a type of bacterium to consume CO2 and produce isobutanol, a liquid fuel that can be used as a gas alternative.

And the process only requires sunlight to get going, meaning this achievement carries with it all sorts of cleaner, greener, cheaper energy implications.

Revolutionary? You betcha.

The modified bacterium potentially serves as not only a fuel substitute, but also an environmental cleanup agent through its consumption of carbon dioxide, the villain in our global warming story. Researchers say the ideal place for this bacteria is next to power plants emitting carbon dioxide so the plants’ greenhouse gases can be swallowed up and recycled into liquid fuel.

Unfortunately, the research is only in its initial stages, making it still too early to tell whether or not this will be the bacteria that saves the world.

Until then, we should continue doing our part to try and reduce emissions as we watch the infamous emissions clock climb to unfathomable numbers.

You can read more about the research here on the online edition of the science journal Nature Biotechnology.

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