Bacteria Engineered to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Liquid Fuel

This is much better (on paper) than other biofuels or hydrogen gas-

This is an amazing development. Hopefully it won’t be difficult to move it from the lab to sources of carbon dioxide gas such as coal, oil and natural gas fired power plants.

Bacteria Engineered to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Liquid Fuel. ScienceDaily





  1. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
    Nathan Hobbs

    While quite incredible, this kind of technology scares me when we start creating artificial life forms to preform industrial tasks efficiently and as big as this we run a huge risk of them getting free and running havoc with the ecosystem.

    What happens when this guy gets free into a fresh water system and starts converting the carbon into butane chocking out native plants and releasing a toxic chemical into the water killing marine life.

    Those who develop the technology say they will protect us from this event by hardwiring in enzyme restrictions or chemical dependencies such that they will die if removed from the industrial environment, but life does not like to be constrained nor follow program parameters like computers do.

    So the technology is incredible but potentially very risky.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You’re right. Genetically engineered organisms have the potential to become invasive species, and they need to be damn sure they don’t beforehand (and they haven’t — witness the BT producing crops’ effects on insects in non-target areas).

    I assumed from the article that this engineered bacteria needs a concentrated source of carbon dioxide. CO2 in the atmosphere is just a trace gas despite its climatic importance. I can’t think of many natural CO2 sources it might infect, but the article doesn’t say enough.

  3. mikepost Avatar

    Research into hydrocarbon eating bacteria (which do occur naturally) has been going on for over 20 years with little real world application in spite of the wonderful story of cheap little bugs eating up oil spills, etc. Worth watching but nothing to count on….

  4. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Might be a good way to scrub emissions from a point source like a power plant or incinerator.

  5. Bogo Avatar

    This still does nothing about the high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. Sure it may help limit the rate of rise, but it isn’t removing the already high levels present. The increased amounts of CO2 have been acidifying the oceans. That is bad for many of the shelled creatures as the acid attacks their shells. The environment is very very complex. Make a change and it ripples all throughout the system. For energy we are going to have to have sources that don’t make ripples. At this point hydrogen and electricity seam to be the least harmful choices.

    Something to think about is power plants run 24 hours a day, rain or shine. What happens to their CO2 emissions at night or on cloudy days?

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    There is one huge problem with hydrogen gas. Although it is the most abundant element in the universe, on Earth almost none exists as free as hydrogen gas — H2 molecules.

    It is chemically reactive and almost all is chemically bound to millions of different substances.

    It takes energy to liberate the gas from water or any other compound. When burned it produces less energy than it took to extract it.

    There are other problems.

    Of course, the great benefit is that in the presence of oxygen it burns and turns into water with no other emissions.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan