Elektor Team

Plant Enzyme Can Convert Carbon Monoxide Into Propane

August 10, 2010 | 11:14
Plant Enzyme Can Convert Carbon Monoxide Into Propane
Plant Enzyme Can Convert Carbon Monoxide Into Propane
Imagine an exhaust-powered car.. sounds strange?

An enzyme found in soybeans could turn an ingredient in vehicle exhaust into new usable fuel, according to a new study. It's a major step on the path toward making fuel out of thin air.
Scientists were working with a microbe called Azotobacter vinelandii, which is found around the roots of various food plants. It creates an enzyme called vanadium nitrogenase, which produces ammonia from nitrogen.

In a study published in the journal Science, researchers took away the nitrogen and fed it carbon monoxide instead. The enzyme started making short carbon chains, two or three atoms long -- in other words, propane, which fuels the blue flames of camping grills across America.

Markus Ribbe, a scientist at the University of California-Irvine, says in a new paper that the enzyme could be further tweaked to make longer carbon chains than those that make up propane. Ribbe thinks he can modify it enough to produce gasoline, Discovery News reports.

If it's perfected, the technique could lead to cars partially powered by their own fumes or by the air around them.

Read more at Popsci
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