New discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atm...

Perhaps somebody with more chemistry can explain the claims for this breakthrough.

Michael Adams and his colleagues have genetically modified a chemosynthetic bacterium, "Pyrococcus furiosus, or "rushing fireball," which thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in the super-heated ocean waters near geothermal vents."

By manipulating the organism's genetic material, Adams and his colleagues created a kind of P. furiosus that is capable of feeding at much lower temperatures on carbon dioxide. The research team then used hydrogen gas to create a chemical reaction in the microorganism that incorporates carbon dioxide into 3-hydroxypropionic acid, a common industrial chemical used to make acrylics and many other products. With other genetic manipulations of this new strain of P. furiosus, Adams and his colleagues could create a version that generates a host of other useful industrial products, including fuel, from carbon dioxide.


I don't understand how modified P. furiosus can feed on CO2. Carbon dioxide isn't a fuel, the atoms are too tightly bound as I understand it to easily release energy by being separated. Doesn't it take energy to separate CO2? They don't say that the hydrogen gas is used for energy, which it might be. Every post I found had the same text, so no further clarification was easily found on the internet.

The breakthrough sounds great, groundbreaking, if it only made sense to me. Where is the energy source? It can't be magic.

Speaking of magic, doesn't Pyrococcus furiosus sound like a Harry Potter spell?

Tags: Michael Adams

Views: 95

Replies to This Discussion

Don't know much chemistry, but I like your Harry Potter spell. : )

Carbon dioxide has a much lower heat of formation than water does, which means that 2 H2 + CO2 --> 2 H2O + C would require energy, rather than release it.  What I am saying here is, the energy doesn't come from the hydrogen gas, like you suggested.  I really have no idea where it comes from, either.

I remain skeptical as well .... partly because the picture looks kind of like Walt from season one of Breaking Bad, posing in front of his high school chemistry lab equipment.

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