A team of researchers at the University in North Carolina and the University of Georgia are working on creating a modified version Extremophiles – a super bacteria capable of producing butanol.

“Most of biofuels such as ethanol and butanol, are created by the fermentation of sugars produced by plants through photosynthesis. Our project is to use organisms that capture carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce biofuels directly,” said Dr. Robert Kelly, professor of molecular engineering at the University of NC.

The bacteria in question have the ability to shunt phase of photosynthesis. However, it would be able to directly produce liquid fuels from hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Since she did not need light, this means that a facility that would use bacteria to create biofuels could be located anywhere – even underground.

The extremophiles – primitive organisms – found in fresh or salt water have evolved well before photosynthetic organisms. They are located in hydrothermal environments with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Celsius.

These microbes absorb carbon dioxide from the environment to produce complex molecules, one of them is known as the “acetyl CoA”. The researchers therefore intend to genetically modify the Pyrococcus to include elements of Metallosphaera. The creation of this super-bacteria” would be able to capture carbon dioxide and hydrogen and produce biofuel.”

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