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Plant Enzyme Converts Car Exhaust Into Fuel

Scientists have discovered a plant enzyme capable of turning carbon monoxide into propane, which lets us imagine a future where cars could run off their own exhaust.

The microbe Azotobacter vinelandii, found in the roots of many food plants including soy beans, creates the buying viagra in uk enzyme vanadium nitrogase, which produces ammonia from nitrogen found in the soil.  Scientists fed the enzyme carbon monoxide instead of nitrogen and cialis price in canada found that it created short carbon chains, two or three atoms long -- essentially propane.

The scientists think that the enzyme could be modified to produce even longer chains until it ultimately produces gasoline.  If perfected, cars could run partially off of their exhaust or carbon monoxide in the air around them, reducing pollution and cutting down on the oil we use.

While it's being heralded as an amazing discovery, scientists say there's a lot of order cheapest levitra online work left to do.  The enzyme is currently hard to viagra 20 mg extract and scientists are working on ways to mass produce it.

via PopSci


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Comments (11)Add Comment
written by Matthew, August 09, 2010
This is by far the dumbest thing I have seen in a long time. Megan, nobody cares if you can feed a bacteria the unburnt part of fuel.
This is the most watered down green news possible. The obvious thing to do is to simply completely burn the link for you viagra 100 mg fuel making carbon dioxide instead of carbon monoxide...or do something a little more ecofriendly like electric cars, for example.
I hate to have such a negative comment, but can we please see some actual ecofriendly writing instead of this greenwashing business.
I hate to agree, but...
written by Alan, August 10, 2010
This is article is garbage.
While the discovery of this enzyme could prove very useful, it is outrageous to suggest that cars would be fitted with a complex and expensive system to reclaim some of the fuel that undergoes incomplete combustion.
As noted, this is a nitrogen-fixing enzyme, and as such probably requires some pretty interesting conditions to begin to accept another substrate.

If you want to report on a new discovery, report what the scientists discovered, not what some overzealous, scientifically ignorant ego-blogger posted on their site.
I liked the article.
written by Alessandro Machi, August 10, 2010
I thought the article was interesting, could probably make such a device part of the catalytic convertor.
Why so negative?
written by Craig, August 10, 2010
Funny that the two previous commenters aren't considering other carbon monoxide-producing processes that might benefit from this cleaning. I don't picture this on when will cialis be available as a generic cars, but on other industrial processes that might not be as easy to make more efficient. I think this development is quite interesting; I'm interested to see where it goes.
Quite Interesting, Actually...
written by Tyler Stanage, August 10, 2010
Well, it won't be hard to mass produce an enzyme as soon as the get the enter site levitra in uk genomic sequence of it. Take it from the current bacteria, put it on a plasmid, and stick it into E. coli cells, let them overproduce the enzyme, and BAM, you have enzyme.

You don't need to have the bacteria there for the enzyme to work, although its cell's machinery would definitely supply the energy needed by the enzyme to catalytically process CO into carbon chains.

Of course this is something imperfect, but don't say that it's the stupidest thing you've seen...imagine mass-producing the only today 50mg viagra retail price enzyme (once it is altered to create longer hydrocarbons, mostly hexanes, heptanes, and octanes, the main component of fuel)--and either having the enzyme overproduced within the bacteria or just have pure enzyme, let it feed off of the CO and spit out buckets of gaseous hydrocarbons, which can be processed just like crude oil is today to give us the fuels we want--the best part? You don't have to drill for oil.

This isn't "green" enough for you? On the contrary, this is probably one of pfizer cialis the most green concepts that has arisen in a long time. Sure, we need to perfect electric cars, but what happens when oil runs out and there's nothing left to transition from fossil fuels to alternative fuels? Cue this enzyme--mass-producing gasoline for us to use until alternative fuels are perfected, cheap, and readily available. Then, switch on over to an entirely clean fuel, and then we're all doing the planet a favor.
Wow, some haters
written by Green Collar Environmentalist, August 11, 2010
Well, although some people think this discovery is bogus green news, I do not.

Perhaps the use of the bacteria in cars is a bit far fetched but in terms of Carbon reclaimation this could be a big break.

Let's see how science takes it's course and see what comes of this discovery before we bash it...
I still disagree
written by Matthew, August 11, 2010
I still think this is bogus tech.

Any CO produced is wasted (unburned) fuel. I have no documentation, but I would like to cialis dose believe that power plants utilize their fuel in such a way that there isn't a significant amount of CO produced. But if not, rather than employing these enzyme scrubbers, they need to work on more completely burning their fuel.
I've heard of bacteria that changes CO2 into hydrocarbons. This is a little better to help bridge the gap until we can go truely green. It's kind of like a green bandaid.

Once again, I hate to be negative. Maybe I am a little discouraged from the lack of can i buy ultram online breakthroughs lately.
written by Slowking, August 11, 2010
Who says you have to use it where CO2 is produced. You could build air filter "plants" with these enzymes in big citys. That would drastically improve living conditions and make fuel.
What's with all the nay-sayers here? Ofcourse in theory we should burn stuff so efficiently that CO2 doesn't even get produced, but that will never happen.
So if we are realistic this is a great discovery.
written by Matthew, August 12, 2010
This tech creates fuel from carbon monoxide (CO) not carbon dioxide (CO2).
If there was significant amounts of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere we would all die of carbon monoxide poisioning.
One more time, I would like to emphasize how I hate to be so negative. Generally I am argueing for the tech discussed on this website, but I just can't do it this time. smilies/sad.gif
written by mike, August 12, 2010
You are very confused about Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). CO is produced when there is cialis generic canada imperfect combustion of the air/fuel mixture. CO itself is combustible (and highly toxic). Currently, catalytic convertors take care of CO and in the process produce heat and buy tramadol tablets and water vapor.

It would make more sense to directly harness the waste heat from the catalytic convertor. There is a lot of waste heat from these devices, currently the heat is just thrown away.

Isn't basic chemistry taught any more in the US? From the comments here it would seem not.
@ mike
written by crag, August 20, 2010

The possibility of using thermoelectric devices to generate electricity from the exhaust heat is actually something being looked at by several people, see links below:
("BMW has been working on thermoelectric power generators for the last few years, winninng an ÖkoGlobe award for their efforts in late 2008. Those prototypes may actually make it into production by 2014 as part of BMW's expanding Efficient Dynamics program. ")

I agree with you that that sort of "energy recycling" in automobiles makes much more sense than a chemical process. It will always be better economically and environmentally to burn fuel as efficiently as possible - it's a virtuous cycle, because then you have to carry less fuel to travel a given distance, meaning the weight of the vehicle goes down, meaning the engine has to work less hard, meaning the fuel consumption is lower...

This sort of potential (see below) bio-tech is interesting, though, and after some R&D might one day make sense in some industrial, static applications, or possibly on ships. But I agree with some of the other commentators here - I don't think that the "cars angle" is the right way to report on this story. for one, the original paper says nothing about technology applications, it's pure chemical biology:

"The ability of V nitrogenase to catalyze both CO and N2 reductions suggests a potential link between the evolution of carbon and nitrogen cycles. It has been shown that abiotic substances, such as minerals on the best site buy canada in viagra submarine vents and nebular dust, are capable of catalyzing FT- and HB-type reactions under extreme conditions (7). Perhaps this dual catalytic capacity was assimilated by ancient microbes through a primitive form of nitrogenase (smilies/cool.gif, which evolved solely toward nitrogen fixation following the rise of photosynthesis for carbon fixation."

Science 6 August 2010:
Vol. 329. no. 5992, p. 642

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