MrSeb writes: "A team at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have genetically engineered a microorganism that converts carbon dioxide into isobutanol and 3-methyl-1-butanol, both of which could be used as a fuel source for cars, or other combustion engines. Called Ralstonia eutropha H16, the bacterium uses electricity to fixate carbon dioxide into alcohols (which are merely carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen arranged in a different order). In theory the hydrogen atoms could be produced by solar panels, but for safety reasons the team instead created formic acid using electricity, and then the bacteria feasts on the formic acid to produce alcohol. Ultimately, what the UCLA researchers have built is an electro-bioreactor that turns electricity into liquid fuel — which in a world that wants to use electricity instead of gasoline, but where the infrastructure just isn’t there yet, this bacterium could be the perfect stepping stone. Imagine a car that converts CO2 into fuel as it drives along, either as a hybrid setup or as the primary power source. It also opens up the possibility of near-infinite fuel cells that could replace lithium-ion batteries."
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