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Recycling Carbon Dioxide Into Usable Fuel Is In the Near Future

Update Date: Mar 28, 2013 02:38 PM EDT

Pollution and excessive emissions of carbon dioxide have led to global warming and climate changes. Several countries have capped off carbon dioxide emissions and use a cap-and-trade market as attempts to control the amounts of carbon dioxide. Due to the detrimental effects of carbon dioxide, researchers have been trying to find ways into controlling this gas. According to researchers from the University of Georgia, microorganisms could possibly be created to consume carbon dioxide and convert it into usable energy.

The researchers took the microorganism, Pyrococus furiosus, literally known as the rushing fireball, and genetically mutated it into a different strain of organism that can consume carbon dioxide. The Pyrococus furiosus microorganisms are known to be carbohydrate eaters that live in the hot areas of the oceans, particularly near the geothermal vents. The researchers took this microorganism, tweaked its genetics, and created a new strain that would be able to absorb carbon dioxide at lower temperatures. The researchers also incorporated the use of hydrogen gas, which helped the new strain of microorganisms to convert carbon dioxide into a chemical known as 3-hydroxypropionic acid. This acid is an ingredient in manufacturing acrylics and other industrial items.

"This is an important first step that has great promise as an efficient and cost-effective method of producing fuels. In the future, we will refine the process and being testing it on larger scales," one of the contributors of the study, Michael Adams, stated.

The researchers explained that this microorganism functions similarly to how plants absorb sunlight. Both organisms take in a source of food and turn it into something usable. This research opens up numerous possibilities, with many believing that carbon dioxide can soon be converted into biofuels. Although the research is new, it provides an optimistic solution to the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide emitted per year.

The report was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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