CO2 R&D and Technology

New Nano-Organisms Consume CO2 to Make Biodegradable Plastic and Fuel

Cyborg bacteria could be stored in local pools where family homes and businesses pump their CO2 waste to, suggest researchers.

Scientists have developed new organisms which can take carbon dioxide and nitrogen from the atmosphere and use it to produce plastics and fuels.

The nano-bio hybrid organisms are a “promising first step toward low-cost carbon sequestration” and eco-friendly plastics manufacturing, according to the University of Colorado.

Using light-activated quantum dots to activate special enzymes within microbial cells, the scientists have created “living factories” which eat harmful CO2.

This is then transformed into useful products such as biodegradable plastic, gasoline, ammonia and bio-diesel, the researchers claim.

“The innovation is a testament to the power of biochemical processes,” said Dr Prashant Nagpal, the lead author of the research, which is published in the American Chemical Society journal. “We’re looking at a technique that could improve CO2 capture to combat climate change and one day even potentially replace carbon-intensive manufacturing for plastics and fuels,” Dr Nagpal added.

With his team Dr Nagpal, who is an assistant professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, began exploring the potential of nanoscopic quantum dots in 2013.

Assistant Professor Prashant Nagpal designed the organisms. Pic: Casey Cass



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