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Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:50 am
by Graham Kennedy
Source

University of Minnesota researchers are a key step closer to making renewable petroleum fuels using bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide.

Graduate student Janice Frias, who earned her doctorate in January, made the critical step by figuring out how to use a protein to transform fatty acids produced by the bacteria into ketones, which can be cracked to make hydrocarbon fuels. The university is filing patents on the process.

...

Aditya Bhan and Lanny Schmidt, chemical engineering professors in the College of Science and Engineering, are turning the ketones into diesel fuel using catalytic technology they have developed. The ability to produce ketones opens the door to making petroleum-like hydrocarbon fuels using only bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide.
"There is enormous interest in using carbon dioxide to make hydrocarbon fuels," Wackett says. "CO2 is the major greenhouse gas mediating global climate change, so removing it from the atmosphere is good for the environment. It's also free. And we can use the same infrastructure to process and transport this new hydrocarbon fuel that we use for fossil fuels."


If true not only would we end our issues of oil supply, but we would actually be solving global warming by actually extracting CO2 from the atmosphere to make the oil! How cool is that? :mrgreen:

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:10 am
by Mikey
That's incredible, but has producing ketones really been a problem? I produce ketones on a regular basis, to the point that extended periods of poorly-controlled blood sugar can lead to a potentially-serious buildup known as ketoacidosis. I had no idea I could be making green diesel all this time.

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:22 pm
by Tyyr
We had a company want to do something similar at our power plant. Use our flue gas to help grow bacteria. The problem was the shear size of the ponds needed. Thousands of acres of them. It's an interesting idea though.

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:28 pm
by Graham Kennedy
I guess there must be something to this that's odd or different in some way, or it wouldn't rate the story.

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:31 pm
by Tyyr
I still see the occasional news story with some fraud trotting out Brown's Gas as the solution to all our energy problems so I'm not sold on something having to be actually useful to get a news story on it.

It's a good step, sure. The question is really though how to do it in the magnitude and cheaply enough to displace oil.

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:33 pm
by Graham Kennedy
If necessary the cheapness factor will be resolved as the oil runs out, alas.

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:38 pm
by Tyyr
True, but that's waaaay too long. Even if I do work at a coal fired power plant I really am pulling for things like this to work. I'm an engineer though so my reaction to most of this is "Cool, now how do we do something useful with it?"

Re: Is this how we solve our oil AND global warming issues?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:38 pm
by Mikey
Well, that's always the case with new technology, isn't it? I can't think of one new concept that was ever conceived in an executable state right from the get-go. Unfortunately, this - if it pans out - like every other similar new energy technology will only become fiscally viable as a true replacement for current sources if it becomes nominally popular enough to reduce the cost for each individual plant a/o research step.