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Author Topic: UGA discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere  (Read 11272 times)
AlanM
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« on: March 27, 2013, 07:58:11 AM »

From the University of Georgia:

UGA discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have found a way to transform the carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere into useful industrial products. Their discovery may soon lead to the creation of biofuels made directly from the carbon dioxide in the air that is responsible for trapping the sun’s rays and raising global temperatures.

“Basically, what we have done is create a microorganism that does with carbon dioxide exactly what plants do-absorb it and generate something useful,” said Michael Adams, member of UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute, Georgia Power professor of biotechnology and Distinguished Research Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

During the process of photosynthesis, plants use sunlight to transform water and carbon dioxide into sugars that the plants use for energy, much like humans burn calories from food.

These sugars can be fermented into fuels like ethanol, but it has proven extraordinarily difficult to efficiently extract the sugars, which are locked away inside the plant’s complex cell walls.

“What this discovery means is that we can remove plants as the middleman,” said Adams, who is co-author of the study detailing their results published March 25 in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. “We can take carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products like fuels and chemicals without having to go through the inefficient process of growing plants and extracting sugars from biomass.”

The process is made possible by a unique microorganism called Pyrococcus furiosus, or “rushing fireball,” which thrives by feeding on carbohydrates in the super-heated ocean waters near geothermal vents. By manipulating the organism’s genetic material, Adams and his colleagues created a kind of P. furiosus that is capable of feeding at much lower temperatures on carbon dioxide.

The research team then used hydrogen gas to create a chemical reaction in the microorganism that incorporates carbon dioxide into 3-hydroxypropionic acid, a common industrial chemical used to make acrylics and many other products.

With other genetic manipulations of this new strain of P. furiosus, Adams and his colleagues could create a version that generates a host of other useful industrial products, including fuel, from carbon dioxide.

When the fuel created through the P. furiosus process is burned, it releases the same amount of carbon dioxide used to create it, effectively making it carbon neutral, and a much cleaner alternative to gasoline, coal and oil.

“This is an important first step that has great promise as an efficient and cost-effective method of producing fuels,” Adams said. “In the future we will refine the process and begin testing it on larger scales.”

The research was supported by the Department of Energy as part of the Electrofuels Program of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy under Grant DE-AR0000081.
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pdf27
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 08:57:43 AM »

I love the way that they put in the small print that it actually requires Hydrogen as well as CO2... Which means in energy terms you're better off using the Hydrogen directly. This is of value if you need liquid fuels, but TBH there are already a lot of ways to do that reasonably efficiently and on an industrial scale.

I do wish people would think about CO2 capture a bit more clearly though - it's ~0.03% of gas in the atmosphere, and IIRC ~25% of dissolved gas in water. Anybody after CO2 capture is going to extract it from the oceans, not the air...
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Tombo
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 09:10:56 AM »

Hydrogen has significant problems as a fuel, mainly in terms of storage and the energy needed to produce it.
The article suggests using hydrogen as an input to an industrial process involving micro-organisms that then produces a hydrocarbon. This process could be refined to produce a hydro carbon fuel.  The hydrogen storage remains static and hydrocarbon fuel could be used in conventional vehicles. Sounds like a win win to me.
The devil is always in the detail -  I assume then process produces more energy than the hydrogen input, for example.
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martin
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 10:12:18 AM »

This is yet another direct cut and paste from a well-known "deniers" site, and should be treated as such - I'll also issue a "last and final warning" that any further blatant trolling will be met with an immediate and permanent ban of the person posting such rubbish! whistlie
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pdf27
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 10:15:22 AM »

The devil is always in the detail -  I assume then process produces more energy than the hydrogen input, for example.
It will produce less - the bacteria are only processing it because they gain energy from doing so. If they didn't, you'd have to provide them with energy from somewhere else. Either way, you end up with less energy and a fuel that needs to be used in a combustion engine rather than a fuel cell...
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pdf27
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 10:17:04 AM »

This is yet another direct cut and paste from a well-known "deniers" site, and should be treated as such - I'll also issue a "last and final warning" that any further blatant trolling will be met with an immediate and permanent ban of the person posting such rubbish! whistlie
Which post was cut and pasted? The original article can be found at http://phys.org/news/2013-03-discovery-scientists-fuel-co2-atmosphere.html, which so far as I'm aware is a website for Physicists. No doubt elsewhere, but that's the first google hit for the first paragraph in the article.
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djh
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2013, 10:23:02 AM »

This is yet another direct cut and paste from a well-known "deniers" site, and should be treated as such - I'll also issue a "last and final warning" that any further blatant trolling will be met with an immediate and permanent ban of the person posting such rubbish! whistlie

No, it's a direct cut and paste from the University of Georgia press release site, which is exactly what it says it is at the beginning. The fact that it has been picked up by other news sites and by some that are 'deniers', is neither here nor there. And whether it was cut-and-pasted directly or via some other site is pretty much irrelevant.

Perhaps we should be more worried that you apparently first saw it on a deniers site instead of a responsible, scientifically-based site. Perhaps you should think about changing your reading habits rather than threatening people who have more open and perhaps rational minds.
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martin
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 11:00:29 AM »

We have had a spate of such nonsensical "business as usual" posts of this sort of late, many of which have been featured on a particular "denial website" (whether or not they originated there), and warnings have been issued in the past. This particular post and it's pretty obvious "origin" was pointed out in one of the complaint pms I received about it. I view this and other similar posts as blatant trolling

Let us for a ghastly acid-flash moment consider the post itself as being sane and serious - as many have pointed out, it's probably a case of more energy in than ever comes out, and then there's the ghastly spectre of what such organisms may wreak if they ever "escaped". Then there's the small matter that IF it worked it would be another excuse used by the deniers to carry on trashing the environment by "burning stuff", which is patently stupid

I stand absolutely by what I said - any more cut and paste  posts from that site - nuke explosion time!
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djh
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 11:24:31 AM »

Let us for a ghastly acid-flash moment consider the post itself as being sane and serious - as many have pointed out, it's probably a case of more energy in than ever comes out, and then there's the ghastly spectre of what such organisms may wreak if they ever "escaped". Then there's the small matter that IF it worked it would be another excuse used by the deniers to carry on trashing the environment by "burning stuff", which is patently stupid

It's a perfectly ordinary report of some research. The researchers have made a 'minimum publishable step', so they have published. It's the way the academic world works. The press office of their university has puffed it up and made a press release. It's what press officers do. I haven't checked, but I'll bet they don't ever claim that the energetics of what they're reporting currently sustain the possible applications that it might one day be developed to support. That's not the small scientific advance they're reporting. So it's entirely unjustified criticism by uninformed readers who should read more carefully and use their own judgment to assess what has been claimed, IMHO.

As for the rest of your rant, well you're entitled to your opinion but if you try to use it to force censorship on the rest of us then you're just as bad as the people you are criticising.

Quote
I stand absolutely by what I said - any more cut and paste  posts from that site - nuke explosion time!

I don't know anything about the person who posted the article, but speaking for myself I generally don't read articles on denier sites so if I had been posting this article from the original or from an aggregator like science daily, I would have had no idea that it was also posted on your denier site, and would consider it extremely unreasonable of you to consider taking action against me for posting it.
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martin
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 11:33:07 AM »

I'm not going to argue with you over this (the umpire's decision IS final), as I said, we've had a spate of these articles cut and pasted from a denialist website by one member, (who has received warnings before), in my view as a deliberate attempt to troll - if you care to view our decision to stop trolling as "censorship" then that is your prerogative. Had you posted the article direct from a US university (and mentioned from whence it came), I doubt it would have brought about the same reaction - as far as I know you have no history of posting "trolling" stuff from one particular site.
 By the way, I see no "censorship" - the article is still there, and I chose to administer a final warning in public, rather than sneakily banning him and deleting the thread.....(which would have been a hell of a lot easier, quieter, and have wasted far less of our time!) facepalm
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 11:36:11 AM by martin » Logged

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Paulh_Boats
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2013, 01:16:15 PM »

Chaps,

This looks like a sensible bit of biological research (2 daughters have done A-level biology and one has a degree in Zoo-Biology). Just like the described plant photo-synthesis, it's similar to yeast fermenting alcohol which has been around for thousands of years. Adapting the process to modern needs is a vital bit of research (if you understand what research really is).

Most likely the valid hard-core science has been fluffed up by the media types, as usual. Just relax and wait for the science and statistically relevant results that it is scalable to appear.

-Paul

PS The topic title is totally misleading
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Tombo
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 02:47:14 PM »

Wasn't the NREL's  1980's  algae to ester research conducted in Georgia?
That research was along similar lines.
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AlanM
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 09:27:11 PM »

I refute your allegation of trolling. This was an item of science which has obviously been of interest to the other members of the forum by the discussion which followed the OP. I did not include any links to any other site, the content of the post being sufficiently unique to allow people to find their own way to UGA if they wished to know more. However your assertion that it is "nonsensical business as usual", is obvious to the others here that it you who is being nonsensical.


Alan
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martin
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 10:42:31 PM »

You really aren't following what I said (as usual) - "BAU" or "business as usual" is a relatively new "buzz term" to describe the sort of lunacy propounded by your favourite "deniers site", whereby they find the most arcane and ridiculous ways of finding excuses to allow "business as usual" - the headlong trashing of the planet, all to the greater glory of the likes of Exxon and the Koch brothers.
If this bit of badly misrepresented research could do what was suggested, it would be a sad day for us all, as the thickets would use it as an excuse to floor the accelerator even harder.

You have had your final warning on trolling...........
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 11:05:14 PM by martin » Logged

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pj
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 11:34:06 PM »

At the risk of bringing wrath upon myself, could I respectfully request that one of the other administrators on this forum explain what is happening within this thread? It doesn't seem to make sense at face value?
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