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article imageNew carbon dioxide recycling method aids biofuels

By Tim Sandle     Jan 15, 2017 in Science
A new method for converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide has been developed. This process step could be used to drive efficiencies in biofuel production, as well as aiding with the manufacture of some chemical products.
The method uses a microorganism called Azotobacter vinelandii. With this organism, microbiologists founds that the organism can be expressed to convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide.
Azotobacter vinelandii is a Gram-negative bacterium that can fix nitrogen while grown aerobically. The bacterium serves as a model organism for studying nitrogen fixation. The organism is found in most soil environments. One interesting characteristic is the organism produces a fluorescent pigment. The intracellular environment of the bacterium was found to favor the conversion of carbon dioxide in a way that applicable to the development of large-scale production of carbon monoxide.
The biofuel ethanol can be created from the common waste gas, carbon monoxide. The microbial cells then turn it into ethanol. The use of synthetic gas (dubbed ‘syngas’) fermentation is seen as one means to create biofuels.
As to the new method, the lead researcher, Dr. Yilin Hu, who works at the Ayala School of Biological Sciences, told the magazine Laboratory Talk: “Our observation that a bacterium can convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide opens up new avenues for the biotechnological adaptation of this reaction into a process that effectively recycles the greenhouse gas into the starting material for biofuel.”
The researcher is of the view that the method can help to reduce the rate of global warming, through lowering the dependency upon fossil fuels, and advancing energy storage. However, there remain important social, economic, environmental and technical factors with biofuels. These include the effect of moderating oil prices; using crops designated as food for fuel; control of carbon emissions levels; and the loss of biodiversity.
The new method has been detailed in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. The research paper is titled “Activation and reduction of carbon dioxide by nitrogenase iron proteins.”
More about Biofuels, Recycling, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide
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