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Genetically Modified Organism Could Turn CO2 into Fuel

We’re concerned, and rightly so, about the continued high levels of CO2 emissions that get released into our atmosphere, but if a recent discovery pans out, those same concentrations of CO2 could be turned directly into fuels.

Researchers at the University of Georgia have found a way to take some of the carbon dioxide that is trapped in our atmosphere and turn them into useful products, such as biofuels, with the help of a genetically modified microorganism.

“We 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.” – Michael Adams, UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute

The process developed at UGA uses a microorganism called Pyrococcus furiosus (“rushing fireball”), which lives and thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in super-heated waters near ocean geothermal vents.

The team manipulated its genetic material so that it can feed on CO2 at much lower temperatures than its usual habitat, and by introducing hydrogen gas to the new strain, produced 3-hydroxypropionic acid, “a common industrial chemical used to make acrylics and many other products”.

The research team believes that by further manipulating this new strain of microorganism, they could create a version that could generate other products, such as biofuels, from CO2. Burning the fuel created by the new process would only release the same amount of CO2 that was used to create it, effectively making it a carbon-neutral fuel.

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