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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Biological Ethanol & Hydrogen

This type of research is currently beyond our capabilities, but the folks at the J. Craig Venter Institute are doing some very cool research with very promising results:

According to the U.S. Department of Energy approximately 80 percent of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions currently come from fossil fuel combustion. The DOE also estimates that world carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 6.1 billion metric tons carbon equivalent in 1999 to 7.9 billion metric tons per year in 2010 and to 9.9 billion metric tons in 2020. This continued consumption of fossil fuels is ample evidence that there is a growing need to eliminate carbon dioxide output into the environment and if possible capture back some of the carbon dioxide associated with global warming. The Biological Energy group is developing and using biological pathways and microbial metabolism to produce new fuels with higher energy output in an environmentally sound fashion. The team uses microbes, microbial genomics, microbial pathways, and plants as potential solutions to carbon sequestration and clean energy production. Current projects include: development of better understanding and reengineering of the photosynthetic pathway to divert the sun’s energy into more hydrogen production as well as reengineering cellulase pathways in certain bacterial to produce ethanol.

The Science Channel is currently running a special on their work called "Cracking the Ocean Code". Join genome pioneer J Craig Venter on a globe-circling ocean voyage, seeking new life forms and genetic secrets that could help solve the planet’s most urgent energy and climate challenges.

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