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Bacteria to consume CO2 – a climate change solution?

Scientists just engineered bacteria to eat CO2,  Right now, biotech companies feed E. coli sugar as they produce everything from insulin to biofuels. Now, a new strain of the bacteria can suck emissions from the air as their food. Fast Company, BY ADELE PETERS 4 Dec 19, Bacteria commonly used in the biotech industry could soon feed on CO2 instead of sugar, turning climate pollution into carbon-neutral biofuels or even food. In a decade-long study, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science engineered for the first time a form of E. coli that can consume carbon dioxide……..

Some startups are already beginning to use microbes to transform CO2 into products; Air Protein, launched in November, uses CO2 to make protein for alternative meat. But microbes that these new companies use are proprietary. “They’re using microbes that are much harder to engineer than E. coli, and therefore the variety of products that these microbes can manufacture from the capture of CO2 is very limited compared to E. coli,” he says. ……

If the production process uses renewable energy, “then we will basically have negative emissions of CO2,” says Gleizer. Some products may be carbon neutral—if the bacteria make jet fuel, for example, the planes that use it will still emit greenhouse gases, but no more than the CO2 that was originally used to produce the fuel. The CO2 could potentially come from direct air capture.

Several steps are still necessary before it’s clear that the process is feasible. When the current strain of the bacteria feeds on CO2, it grows much more slowly than if it was eating sugar; the researchers think that future versions can be faster. The E. coli will also have to be further modified to produce specific products. And production equipment in biotech factories might also have to change. “There’s still a long way to optimize this process,” says Gleizer. https://www.fastcompany.com/90438169/scientists-just-engineered-bacteria-to-eat-co2

December 5, 2019 - Posted by | climate change, Israel

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