If gasoline prices have you a little frustrated, there is a silver lining. As I said long ago, rising prices bring new technology. I came across this rather amazing article over the weekend about Craig Venter, the fellow who mapped the human genome, and who is now working on reengineering simple life forms to consume carbon dioxide and give off octane-based fuels as waste! Says Venter:
We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy. … We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock.
There has been a lot of work in the biofuel industry using simple organisms to help produce biodiesel and ethanol and there have been a lot of recent advances in producing hydrogen but this work by Venter, can produce gasoline while getting rid of CO2.
The genetics of octane-producing organisms can be tinkered with to increase the amount of CO2 they eat and octane they excrete, according to Venter.
The limiting part of the equation isn’t designing an organism, it’s the difficulty of extracting high concentrations of CO2 from the air to feed the organisms
The ancient alchemists were always trying to turn lead into gold, but, compared to this, they were wasting their time. Craig Venter is no marginal garage inventer, this is cutting edge science by a highly respected geneticist. CO2 turned into fuel, now that’s cool! No, … that’s mind boggling.