Bacteria could be the newest way to make car fuel
Yesterday, researchers published results from a study that found that bacteria could be used to produce methane (car fuel) from carbon dioxide, which is abundant in the atmosphere. The enzyme nitrogenase enables the conversion. Nitrogenase is also involved in nitrogen fixation, generally a process done by soil bacteria.
Scientists genetically engineered a strain of bacteria to produce large quantities of the enzyme nitrogenase. The new version of nitrogenase was not capable of carrying out the process of nitrogen fixation, but was capable of doing something else—producing methane from carbon dioxide.
Although other microorganisms currently exist that are capable of converting carbon dioxide into methane, they require other organisms to supply them with materials in the process. The genetically engineered bacterial strain developed by the researchers is capable of producing bacteria on its own. It also requires less energy input.
However, it is unlikely that the process will become mainstream just yet; it is relatively inefficient, with a large amount of hydrogen produced along with methane. Researchers are working to hone in on the process to maximize its efficiency. One day in the future, bacteria might be helping you fill up your gas tank.