Synthetic Bacteria to Excrete Crude in 18 Months?

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In his presentation at the annual TED meeting, redoubtable gene-meister Craig Venter predicted that his team would soon produce synthetic bacteria which would consume carbon dioxide to produce a "fourth generation fuel" and help solve man-made global warming as well.  As AFP reports:

"We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter told an audience that included global warming fighter Al Gore and Google co-founder Larry Page.

"We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock." …

His team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already exist, not making new life, he said. Organisms already exist that produce octane, but not in amounts needed to be a fuel supply.

"If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet," Venter said. "The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them."

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.

Sounds great, though Venter does note a not inconsiderable problem:

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 scientist said in answer to a question from Page.

Venter's bonus line?

"We are a ways away from designing people. Our goal is just to make sure they survive long enough to do that."

Whole AFP story here.  

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  1. I’ll have to comment on this fascinating news later. Circuit City is having a hell of a sale.

  2. I don’t get it. Combining water and carbon dioxide to produce octane consumes, not produces, energy, right?

    That’s why burning octane into CO2 and water releases energy.

  3. What about the poor little bacterium? Maybe it doesn’t want to be forced to eat CO2?
    Who is going to stand up for the little guy.
    Alert PETA!

  4. I wonder if the device could be made small enough to attach to the tailpipe of a car? Would that give us perpetual motion machines?

    Or what if it is too effective? Then we will need to deal with AGC. The next ice age is coming! We need to stop this technology now!

  5. I, for one, welcome our oil-germ overlords.

  6. I don’t get it. Combining water and carbon dioxide to produce octane consumes, not produces, energy, right?

    Right. The organism extracts engery from the environment (it eats something). Most of the energy goes towards supporting life. The organism produces octane as waste. Humans come along at a later time and harvest the waste.

    No different conceptually from planting wheat and letting the plant capture solar energy and store it in chemical bonds in sugar.

  7. That makes sense, kinnath. The writer makes it sound as if the CO2 WAS the food source the organisms would eat.

    I’m sure Venter explained this, but it just didn’t come through in that article.

  8. Does this mean we can all relax now?

  9. I would think that there is a photosynthesis process involved. I don’t know how carbon dioxide by itself is a source of energy for these bacterium. On a side note, is it completely unreasonable that the solution to global warming would come from technological advances rather than government restrictions?

  10. This sounds like a fancified version of ethanol. The energy to drive the whole process has to come from somewhere.

    Does this mean we can all relax now?

    DENIER DENIER DENIER DENIER DENIER DENIER DENIER

  11. The writer makes it sound as if the CO2 WAS the food source the organisms would eat.

    Given CO2 is an input not an output, I am assuming this involves photosynthesis. A big tub of nutrients, a CO2 source, a batch of bacteria, and some sunlight. Instead of producing cellulose or sugars, the bacteria produces octane.

    Unfortunately, there is no link to any detailed information.

  12. The energy to drive the whole process has to come from somewhere.

    Like most carbon-fixing organisms, this bacterium probably derives its energy from an incandescent nuclear reactor some 93 million miles from here.

  13. This sounds like a fancified version of ethanol.

    Not at all.

    The ethanol path would be photosynthesis to produce starch/sugar, fermenation to convert starch/sugar to alcohol, then distillation to concentrate the alcohol. Not a very efficient process if the goal is to run an internal combustion engine instead of generating a hangover.

    The innovation implied is a custom-made bacteria that produces octane directly, skipping the starch/sugar energy store in the middle.

  14. On a side note, is it completely unreasonable that the solution to global warming would come from technological advances rather than government restrictions?

    You think it coincidental that all of this research into carbon-free energy sources is coming about now?

  15. this is what i’m talking about.. if this is even moderately successful, maybe there will be more investment in biotech solutions to stubborn pollution problems.

  16. The organism extracts engery from the environment (it eats something).

    I guess the big question is, what does it eat? If it needs an energy-intensive feedstock (and what a joke it would be if it needed corn).

    His team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already exist, not making new life, he said.

    Since this is a GM bacteria, aren’t all its works per se evil?

  17. That makes sense, kinnath. The writer makes it sound as if the CO2 WAS the food source the organisms would eat.

    I’m sure Venter explained this, but it just didn’t come through in that article.

    Newflash: Science reporters know nothing about science. Film at 11.

  18. joe,

    You think it coincidental that all of this research into carbon-free energy sources is coming about now?

    Not at all, but there are 3 factors (at least) to explain why now:

    1. Government subsidies
    2. Greenness
    3. High fuel prices

    2 & 3 are sufficient (3 would be sufficient, but if people want to be green, that helps). 1 is probably “helping” but is unnecessary and comes with a very high opportunity cost.

    I go back to my Manhattan Project/Moon Landing argument. Government concentration of resources can cause specific great things to happen. But, the other lost advances is very high. For the Manhattan Project the trade offs were probably worth while, the Japanese needed to be defeated. I refuse to grant the same to the Moon Landing, no matter how cool it was.

  19. Like most carbon-fixing organisms, this bacterium probably derives its energy from an incandescent nuclear reactor some 93 million miles from here.

    I was about to call you a dumbass, because everyone knows that bacteria don’t do photosynthesis. Then I went and edumucated myself. Good thing I did that before I looked stupid.

    So if this runs on sunlight, then there will be huge bacteria-oil plants in the sunniest places on Earth, right? And here I was hoping that the Middle East could go back to being the most worthless region on the planet after all the oil is gone.

  20. As long as enterprising inventers can become filthy rich from their inventions, there will be a solution to AGW. Direct government intervention is more likely to impede progress than accelerate it.

  21. robc,

    Changes in culture, such as the decline of segregationist sentiment, are often driven by government action in a feedback loop. This is especially true of technological changes. The government built a whole lotta highways through nonwhere before the exurb was invented.

    I don’t think the distinction between “government action” and “greenness” is as sharp as some would claim. Unless we’re willing to posit some pretter astounding coincidences.

  22. The linked article does state that concentrating CO2 is the limitig factor. It would take energy to run whatever equipment is required to provide the CO2 to the bacteria that create octane. It is not clear yet whether the total system is a net energy gain or energy loss.

  23. If this is a solar-driven process, it would need to be a great deal more energy-efficient than solar-electric or solar-hydrogen plants in order for the continued burning of octane in non-point sources like cars better from an environmental perspective.

  24. “…like cars TO BE better from an environmental perspective.”

  25. joe,

    I would say the green movement started well before government subsidies of this kind of stuff.

    The only government action that I think led to increased greenness is via the public school system.

    I dont think there are any astounding coincidences involved. People have been investigating oil-less energy sources for a long, long time. How long has solar panel research been going on? Nuclear (although it got a nice governent kick start and lots of funding, but how come all that government assistance into fusion hasnt led to any astounding coincidences [Note: this is an area I know a lot about, before a mid-90s career/life shift, I was pursuing a PhD in plasma physics]?)

    There have been a long series of advances in the field. Solar has some slight advance every year. Solar panels of today are not the same as those from 20 years ago. Increased fuel costs have led to more emphasis and more attention from the news media. If this story had occurred while fuel was at 80 cents per gallon, would it have made Reason?

  26. While I would like nothing more for this to be true, it just sounds to rosey to be real. Not quite cold fusion too-good-to-be-true, but at the very least electric car level. Can this actually be done on a scale that is meaningful?

  27. So if this runs on sunlight, then there will be huge bacteria-oil plants in the sunniest places on Earth, right? And here I was hoping that the Middle East could go back to being the most worthless region on the planet after all the oil is gone.

    Get ready for Israeli oil! Awesome.

  28. While I would like nothing more for this to be true, it just sounds to rosey to be real.

    Fossil fuels are just the products of photosynthesis from millions of years ago that have been concentratd by really, really slow geological processes.

    The only viable replacement that I can see is some efficient means of harnessing photosynthesis now. Growing grains and making ethanol is way to inefficient. But bacteria or plankton or some other cellular-level organism that can be grown is mass quantities seems to be quite viable. I think the answer is going to be growing and harvesting something-or-other in the oceans.

  29. robc,

    I would say the green movement started well before government subsidies of this kind of stuff. Well, obviously. In a democratic republic, there needs to be a constituency for something before the government starts responding. But then, I’m not the one positing a one-way flow, but a feedback loop.

    The only government action that I think led to increased greenness is via the public school system.

    Depends on how you define “greenness.” The oil companies are going into alternative energy sourcs because of something they read in the Sierra Club’s newsletter, but because actions like government commitments to buy X% of its energy from renewable sources has created a demand, leading to a supply. And look at the relationship between the Japanese government and the R&D on the Prius.

    People have been investigating oil-less energy sources for a long, long time. Sure, but let’s not pretend we’ve never read a story about the intersection between public policy, expected public policy, and research in the past 20 years.

  30. Wait, so, honest question here: we’re still creating octane which, when burned for fuel, will release harmful substances into the environment, right? I got a C in college chemistry, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something here.

    Also, could you get the CO2 from all of those factories that are currently scrubbing it out of their exhaust? (Coal, steel, etc.)

  31. Why no story on Scientific American’s plan to eliminate fossil fuels?

  32. Theoretically, CO2 fixing bacteria don’t necessarily need sunlight, but those that don’t are a rare breed:

    The other group, the autotrophs, fix carbon dioxide to make their own food source; this may be fueled by light energy (photoautotrophic), or by oxidation of nitrogen, sulfur, or other elements (chemoautotrophic). While chemoautotrophs are uncommon, photoautotrophs are common and quite diverse. They include the cyanobacteria, green sulfur bacteria, purple sulfur bacteria, and purple nonsulfur bacteria. The sulfur bacteria are particularly interesting, since they use hydrogen sulfide as hydrogen donor, instead of water like most other photosynthetic organisms, including cyanobacteria.

  33. joe,

    You did see my #1 point above didnt you, that government action helped? Im not even disagreeing with feedback, in fact that accentuates my point. If the government hadnt been involved, that money would have been used for something else, and the feedback it drove would have increased something. I have no clue what. My point is that while government action may have shortened the time to discover this bacteria, it greatly increased the time to something something. And, that something something is obviously of more value because that is where the money would have naturally flowed.

    Completely uncheckable wild ass claim of mine: Without the Apollo program, DVD players would have been ubiquitous by 1985 and the soviet union would have crashed earlier.

  34. Some of my cousin’s colleagues from the state hospital are at the TED conference along with some MIT geeks. They invented something that allows quadroplegics and other severely disabled people to compose and perform their own music.

    Which is wonderful in and of itself, but also means that similar technology could allow them to do all sorts of other things using their brains only, which means in turn that it could become common to the point of normality for such people to be working in cubicles like everyone else. Actual, fully-integrated, independent members of society.

  35. Wouldn’t this just be anaerobic respiration that produces an alkane hydrocarbon instead of an an alcohol? It has to use photosynthesis or this is no different from making beer.

  36. Does this mean we can all relax now?

    I hope Venter pulls it off. As a native Californian, I relish the thought of some laid-back surfer dude simultaneously solving the greenhouse gas problem and the energy crisis. Maybe he can get us out of the Middle East, too. Politicians would have to find some new thing to keep the population in a panic.

  37. You did see my #1 point above didnt you, that government action helped?

    Yes, and if it wasn’t clear, I’m saying you 1) give it short shrift and 2) make an error if you think “subsidy” is the only, or the most important, action government can take.

    the government hadnt been involved, that money would have been used for something else Boner drugs! Boner drugs!

    And, that something something is obviously of more value because that is where the money would have naturally flowed. When we’re talking about solving the problems associated with externalized costs like pollution, global warming, and oil wars, this statement is painfully inadequate.

  38. joe,

    Some of us (not myself, **I** have no problem in that department), may consider boner drugs to be more important than pollution, global warming or oil wars.

    Are you saying those people are wrong?

    As Ive said before, when global warming becomes a Pearl Harbor level problem, I will be in favor of a Manhattan Project to prevent it. Until then, I would prefer my research dollars be spent on what I want researched.

  39. I haven’t been this excited since tabletop cold fusion.

  40. This sounds like a fancified version of ethanol.

    Following up on what Kinnath had to say earlier… One of the biggest problems with Ethanol is that after you’ve made your feedstock (corn), the first step in the process is to burn off 38% of your available energy. That’s the raw energy difference between the feedstock (starch) and ethanol. After that, you’re left with a product that is very difficult to refine. Now, I’m not saying that corn is a bad fuel. Quite the contrary, it’s easy to grow and it works great as a heat source in a pellet stove, where it can be burned at nearly 70% efficiency (probably higher if someone went to the effort to make a really efficient pellet furnace).

    But back to the main story here… This is in line with what I’ve been saying for several years now… automobile bio-fuels won’t really take off until the genetic engineers develop a more useful plant for the purpose. And I’d be willing to bet that it’ll probably end up being a plant that just drips of vegetable oil.

  41. Yes, I’m saying those people are wrong.

    Global warming is already a Pearl Harbor-level problem. The spread of disease vectors and desertification has already killed more people than Pearl Harbor.

  42. What we need is people who grow leaves instead of hair.

    This would also be supported by Methodists as I would be growing fig leaves where my pubes would otherwise be.

  43. joe,

    Pearl Harbor wasnt about the number of people who died. It proved the Japanese were a threat to America.

    You may be the “Billy Mitchell” in this scenario, but that doesnt mean the Pearl Harbor level proof that you are right has happened yet.

  44. Global Warming isn’t about the number of people who have died already, either.

    And I’m not having this argument again.

  45. joe,

    And I’m not having this argument again.

    Thats fine. I was trying to restart it. The fact of a need for an argument proves my “Pearl Harbor” point.

  46. Nothing kills an interesting thread faster than joe getting into a pissing match with one of a handful of regulars here at H&R.

    Keep up the good work boys.

  47. joe | February 29, 2008, 11:37am | #
    Global Warming isn’t about the number of people who have died already, either.

    And I’m not having this argument again.

    Hey joe… if global warming (no need for caps here, really) ain’t about the number of people who have died… how come you brought it up at 11:18?

    joe | February 29, 2008, 11:18am | #
    Yes, I’m saying those people are wrong.

    Global warming is already a Pearl Harbor-level problem. The spread of disease vectors and desertification has already killed more people than Pearl Harbor.

  48. I was trying to restart it.

    wasnt. wasnt. Typing is hard.

  49. There is no “need” for an argument, robc, outside your own head.

    I could say there is a “need” to argue whether evolution happened. That doesn’t make so; it would just make me uninformed or purposely deluded about evolution.

    The “need” you talk about is psychological.

  50. Since this is a GM bacteria, aren’t all its works per se evil?

    Put your raincoat on, R C- the heads will begin exploding momentarily.

  51. Hey joe… if global warming (no need for caps here, really) ain’t about the number of people who have died… how come you brought it up at 11:18?

    Does mommy know you’re using the computer?

  52. it could become common to the point of normality for such people to be working in cubicles like everyone else

    Everybody gets to be a cubicle drone! Woo hoo! O brave new world that has such people in it.

  53. Look, I’ll grant you this: if you don’t believe there is any global warming problem, then it doesn’t make sense to invest in solving it.

  54. Yes, Jennifer, people with advanced MS are LUCKY they don’t have to live the trite, dull lives of the ordinary bourgeoisie.

  55. joe is operating at his normal Friday level of incoherence and aggressiveness. I swear he must start drinking early on Fridays.

  56. joe | February 29, 2008, 12:10pm | #

    Does mommy know you’re using the computer?

    Yup, she knows. Mine told me to play nice. Didn’t yours?

  57. I haven’t been this excited since tabletop cold fusion.

    The unintended, positive consequence of that whole fiasco was the increase in skepticism in society. Skeptics make fewer poor decisions than optimists.

  58. joe stabbed your kitten with a salad fork.

    joe feeds Tums to seagulls.

    joe keeps turning down the heat in the office.

    joe farts in elevators.

    Are we done here?

  59. Naw, CO, your mom doesn’t like it when we “play” too nice.

  60. Yes, Jennifer, people with advanced MS are LUCKY they don’t have to live the trite, dull lives of the ordinary bourgeoisie.

    Chill thyself, Joe. I just think it’s funny that, out of all the wonderful vistas which new technology might hopefully grant paralyzed people, “work in a cubicle” is the one you chose to highlight as an ideal. Hee hee.

  61. “Someday, God willing, the Armless Boy of Baghdad will find gainful employment as a Wal-mart greeter.”

  62. over the line joe

    leave the mother/sister comments in your festering head

  63. Jennifer, if I had responded to a statement about how school vouchers were going to allow poor people from bad school districts to become professionals working in offices with “Everybody gets to be a cubicle drone! Woo hoo! O brave new world that has such people in it,” you would have torn me a new one. And you would have been right.

    That was pretty insensitive. I suggests that you don’t appreciate just how liberating it would be for such people to be able to have ordinary, boring jobs and support themselves.

  64. fed up | February 29, 2008, 12:36pm | #

    over the line joe

    leave the mother/sister comments in your festering head

    Yawn.

  65. joe turned me into a newt. Then he said something smug and put everyone in a babbling rage.

  66. Jennifer, if I had responded to a statement about how school vouchers were going to allow poor people from bad school districts to become professionals working in offices with “Everybody gets to be a cubicle drone! Woo hoo! O brave new world that has such people in it,” you would have torn me a new one. And you would have been right.

    Now now, m’love, considering how fond you are of semantics you of all people should know that “professional with an office job” has an entirely different connotation from “cubicle dweller.”

    Remember, alwasy remember, the differences twixt intonation and connotation. No self-respecting troll can be taken seriously without it.

  67. I didn’t get better either. What a fucking dick.

  68. The 5 Stages of H&R Threads:

    1) Denial: Global warming is a fraud.
    2) Anger: Denier! Asshole! Denier!
    3) Bargaining: How about carbon credits?
    4) Depression: Joe’s right. We’re doomed!
    5) Acceptance: Oh well. I’ll be long dead before the Apocalypse

  69. What a fucking dick.

    As a woman, I get more use out of a fucking dick than a celibate one.

  70. OH. FOR. FUCKS. SAKE!

    Can we not turn every thread remotely related to global warming into a goddamn thread about joe?!

  71. But then, what would Joe do with the rest of his life?

  72. Yawn.

    Yes joe, we all understand that you’re an antisocial prick.

  73. Jennifer | February 29, 2008, 1:35pm | #

    But then, what would Joe do with the rest of his life?

    Discuss ideas? Never occured to you, did it?

    leave the mother/sister comments in your festering head

    Speaking of sisters, do you find life in the convent satisfying?

  74. Yes, Jennifer, people with advanced MS are LUCKY they don’t have to live the trite, dull lives of the ordinary bourgeoisie.

    As an MS sufferer, I just want to point out that I got Jennifer’s joke, and found it funny. All of my spinal cord lesions were amused by it as well, I think.

  75. Speaking of sisters, do you find life in the convent satisfying?

    joe, what are you trying to accomplish when you veer off and start smearing peoples mothers and sisters with sexual innuendo?

    You’re clearly the smartest guy to come here to promote the liberal point of view. Do you really think this helps to promote your cause?

  76. People, people, people.
    joe is obviously a well-informed, intelligent and critical thinker who has nothing better to do all day than be a total prick.
    Show the fuckstain some respect.

  77. joe | February 29, 2008, 12:33pm | #
    joe stabbed your kitten with a salad fork.

    joe feeds Tums to seagulls.

    joe keeps turning down the heat in the office.

    joe farts in elevators.

    Are we done here?

    joe, everybody farts in elevators – and I expected you’d turn town the heat (global warming and all ..except I think it is now offically called “climate change isn’t it?) – but I didn’t think you’d stoop to all that other stuff stuff too… I guess I have been giving you too much credit after all

    kinnath | February 29, 2008, 1:58pm | #
    Speaking of sisters, do you find life in the convent satisfying?

    joe, what are you trying to accomplish when you veer off and start smearing peoples mothers and sisters with sexual innuendo?

    You’re clearly the smartest guy to come here to promote the liberal point of view. Do you really think this helps to promote your cause?

    Perfect question here joe… you are often a clear and erudite promoter of the liberal pov, but when you descend into smears, or insist on being right at all costs just because there is a chance (threat?) that there may be validity in another (differing) position … poof – most of what you may have gained evaporates.

    And in case you are not sure how to answer the last question: “Do you really think this helps to promote your cause?” you might consider that it is “no”.

  78. kinnath,

    joe, what are you trying to accomplish when you veer off and start smearing peoples mothers and sisters with sexual innuendo? Basically, to irritate people who write pointless posts that contribute nothing to thread except to attack me personally.

    I’m not here to promote a cause. I’m here to debate ideas with smart people who disagree with me.

  79. …because I think that’s fun.

  80. Basically, to irritate people who write pointless posts that contribute nothing to thread except to attack me personally.

    …because I think that’s fun

    I did too when I was in Junior High School.

  81. Uh, no, kinnath.

    I’m not here to promote a cause. I’m here to debate ideas with smart people who disagree with me…because I think that’s fun.

    K?

  82. I’m not here to promote a cause. I’m here to debate ideas with smart people who disagree with me.

    You’ve said that before, but I’m not convinced.

  83. Marcvs | February 29, 2008, 10:51am | #

    Wait, so, honest question here: we’re still creating octane which, when burned for fuel, will release harmful substances into the environment, right? I got a C in college chemistry, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something here.

    In this process, somewhat similar to bioethanol, the octane is produced from CO2 in the atmosphere, then burned back to CO2 and released into the atmosphere. Therefore, it’s a closed loop, no new net inputs of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Also, could you get the CO2 from all of those factories that are currently scrubbing it out of their exhaust? (Coal, steel, etc.)

    possibly, even probably

  84. Gosh joe, thanks for clarifying – It is slightly possible I might even develop some respect for you now that you are being truthful – and surprise, we are here for practically the same reason i.e. (I’m here) basically, to irritate people joe… because I think that’s fun … Woo Hooo!

    I was a good boy in high-school and didn’t think this kind of stuff was fun then … but I’ve changed a lot of other high-school beliefs over the years (like socialism is the way to go)sooo… I think I’ll change my handle to “joe irritator” or maybe “fun with joe”. Lemme think on it awhile.

    joe | February 29, 2008, 2:54pm | #
    Uh, no, kinnath.

    I’m not here to promote a cause. I’m here to debate ideas with smart people who disagree with me…

    Ya know joe, I don’t really buy that one – if it was true you wouldn’t have responded to a bunch of posters (robc, Jennifer, fed up, me/njb) with snark and insults. You would have debated.

    And you might have responded to kinnath’s 1:58 “joe, what are you trying to accomplish when you veer off and start smearing peoples mothers and sisters with sexual innuendo?” with an actual response, rather than just more snark.

  85. I swear he must start drinking early on Fridays.

    Now that sounds like a plan!

  86. Therefore, it’s a closed loop, no new net inputs of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Sure, but wouldn’t the burning of octane (which probably won’t be in a 100% pure state by the time it gets into gas tanks) still produce other emissions, such as smog- and acid-rain precursors?

  87. Ya know joe, I don’t really buy that one

    Ohnoes!

  88. You guys are all missing the evil sub-plot here: Vinter is creating a GM bacteria that will suck the CO2 out of the atmosphere thereby causing GLOBAL COOLING. Al Gore will soon be peddling “coal deficits”, and feeding pinto beans to cows to promote their carbon-rich farts.

    The bright-side to all of this is that farting in elevators will be considered a social good, hence joe will no longer be a pariah. So, in the final analysis, it really was just all about joe.

    As a woman, I get more use out of a fucking dick than a celibate one.

    Jennifer, if only I were younger, better looking, richer and not married… you still would not be interested in me, but I can dream.

  89. The quote says he will use “CO2 as the fuel stock.”

    I only did undergrad chemistry, but I know that CO2 is not and cannot be “fuel.” This guy is either (a) very relaxed about language, (b) not a chemist, or (c) a complete idiot.

    Could be all three.

  90. Sure, but wouldn’t the burning of octane (which probably won’t be in a 100% pure state by the time it gets into gas tanks) still produce other emissions, such as smog- and acid-rain precursors?

    depends on a lot of different factors, including what additives are included, purity, etc.

    smog precursors: IIRC, the main ones are SO(X), the various oxides of sulfur. pure octane doesn’t contain sulfur.

    acid rain precursors: oxides of sulfur, SO(X), and nitrogen, NO(X). pure octane doesn’t contain nitrogen.

    heat of combusion plays a major role. some carbon monoxide might still be emitted. some form of catalytic converter might still be useful in mitigating the products, but there should be minimal addition to greenhouse gas atmospheric levels.

  91. PiperTom,

    CO2 most certainly can be a fuel. It is the primary fuel stock in photosynthesis.

    Vinter is not an idiot. Whether he can GM a bacteria to make Octane from CO2 in economical amounts remains to be seen. You have to admit, this is a very intriguing idea.

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