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 enzyme vanadium nitrogase, which produces ammonia from nitrogen found in the soil. Scientists fed the enzyme carbon monoxide instead of nitrogen and 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 work left to do. The enzyme is currently hard to extract and scientists are working on ways to mass produce it.
written by Alessandro Machi, August 10, 2010
written by Green Collar Environmentalist, August 11, 2010
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