from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Petroleum products are a pretty convenient way to store energy. It’s just unfortunate that burning the stuff releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Biofuels could be a solution, but relying on natural biological processes can be difficult to scale up — especially if we expect biofuels to try to match up with the current energy demands. Researchers are working on ways to modify biology or circumvent it with chemical engineering to make some carbon neutral hydrocarbon fuels in large quantities. Here are a few possible examples.
- A copper catalyst system can produce ethanol (and acetate) from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure — without any kind of fermentation. This copper-based system relies on an electrochemical cell and could be a environmentally-friendly way to produce a non-toxic, renewable fuel. [url]
- Scientists have played with Escherichia coli bacteria that can generate propane gas. The process needs a lot more work to become a practical way to produce propane as a fuel, but a bioreactor to make propane could be viable in a decade or so. (Maybe.) [url]
- Some species of bacteria have been found that can consume pure electricity for food. These naturally-occurring microorganisms usually live near hydrothermal vents on the seafloor, but if they can feed on electrons directly (instead of soluble bits of iron), then they might be able to store energy in biomolecules for us and turn electricity into convenient biofuels. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.