Environment

Deep-sea bacteria could help neutralize carbon dioxide

Deep-sea bacteria could help n...
University of Florida researchers have devised a way to produce carbonic anhydrase in a lab without having to harvest Thiomicrospira crunogena​ from the sea
University of Florida researchers have devised a way to produce carbonic anhydrase in a lab without having to harvest Thiomicrospira crunogena​ from the sea
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University of Florida researchers have devised a way to produce carbonic anhydrase in a lab without having to harvest Thiomicrospira crunogena​ from the sea
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University of Florida researchers have devised a way to produce carbonic anhydrase in a lab without having to harvest Thiomicrospira crunogena​ from the sea

Scientists have discovered that a bacterium called Thiomicrospira crunogena can produce carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that can convert carbon dioxide into bicarbonate. In a new study, scientists from the University of Florida highlight how the bacterium, found in deep-sea regions, could play a role in the race to find solutions to sequester industrial CO2 from the atmosphere.

The researchers say that the bacterium living near hydrothermal vents, usually found in areas with volcanic activity, has been perfected by evolution to withstand extreme temperature and pressure. This special feature makes it is naturally adapted to handle conditions found in an industrial setting.

The carbonic anhydrase enzyme that the bacterium produces can catalyze a chemical reaction between carbon dioxide and water. This interaction converts carbon dioxide into bicarbonate, which could then be processed into products such as baking soda and chalk.

In order to work in an industrial setting, the enzyme would be immobilized with solvent inside a reactor vessel. As flue gas moved through the solvent, the enzyme would covert the carbon dioxide into bicarbonate.

Further research will focus on scaling up production of the enzyme to meet the huge demands of industrial use. The researchers have already devised a way to produce the enzyme in a lab without having to harvest Thiomicrospira crunogena from the sea, using a genetically engineered version of the common E.Coli bacteria.

So far, the team has managed to produce several milligrams of carbonic anhydrase, but much larger quantities would be necessary for industrial application. They will also look into ways of increasing its stability, longevity and activation speed.

Details of the study were published recently in the journals Acta Crystallographica D: Biological Crystallography and Chemical Engineering Science.

The video below features UF scientists talking about their research.

Source: University of Florida

Deep-sea bacteria could help neutralize greenhouse gas

10 comments
ivan4
I still fail to see what the obsession with CO2 is and why the gas that brings life to the planet is demonised so much. If people are worried about the greenhouse effect then they should be much more concerned with water vapour in the atmosphere, it has a much greater greenhouse effect the CO2 ever will and there is vastly more of it.
Kaiser Derden
who cares ? CO2 is not a pollutant and has almost no contribution to the greenhouse effect ... btw a greenhouse gets hot because of the glass ceiling not the gas inside it ... the earth has no glass ceiling ...
Stradric
@Kaiser Derden: It's called the greenhouse *effect* specifically because the CO2 performs similarly to the glass in a greenhouse, i.e. it traps the infrared radiation. There are many greenhouse gases including water vapor as ivan4 has said. However, water vapor is not a major concern because it turns into clouds which reflect sunlight back out into space. And also it gets released as rain as part of the vital hydrologic cycle. CO2 is the major concern because its concentration in the atmosphere is growing due primarily to human consumption of fossil fuels, causing global temperatures to rise.
guzmanchinky
The ignorance of some of the above posters is scary. That said, I am confident that we can science our way out of this problem.
witipete
Its what all vegetation does. CO2 = the greening of the earth.
Cuckoo
Sigh, so many ignorants on here. I've noticed the trend is currently to talk about water vapour as if they have a clue what they are talking about. Water vapor, CO2, and several other gasses are all insulating gases which trap heat. What these fools don't seem to be capable of grasping is that it is the IMBALANCE of these gases that is the problem. The global ecosystem is a delicate balance, and artificially altering any single part of it has massive consequences. Why is that so hard for these idiots to understand?
habakak
Off course we can science our way out of this. In 25 years nobody will be talking about or thinking of GW or CC anymore. In less than 25 years the vast majority of cars being produced will be electric and renewable energy will be big enough and growing fast enough to not worry about fossil fuel use anymore. People just can't see that now. If you really care for the environment then you should go live in a cave or end your life. Everything you do consumes tremendous amounts of fossil fuels. Nobody is willing to sacrifice their lifestyle. And there is no need for it. This problem will be solved by renewable energy the next quarter century. Their has been a lot of false starts, but the tech is finally getting there. Last year, worldwide deployments of renewables exceeded new deployments fossil fuel based electricity. Over the next 5 to 10 years the pendulum might swing back and forth between the two, but after that it will just go one way.
ivan4
@habakak, There is one great problem that renewable energy has to overcome - supplying base load power. Until renewable energy can sustain a reliable base load 24/7/365 it can only be considered a secondary source that can destabilise the power grid. Sorry to be so harsh but we do have to live in the real world. One in which CO2 plus any added warmth is at the moment adding to the increased greening and food production of the planet. Those that want to cut down the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere appear to want to kill life on this planet for some strange reason. Is it because they are blinded by fake figures that are produced to fit a theory rather than the theory being fitted to the real figures, or is it blind belief that un-validated computer models that use incorrect mathematical functions actually mean anything?
MD
Maybe this is where the pause went. What exactly are these bacteria doing right now, if not sequestering CO2. I don't think you have to get them in a petri-dish to make them do their thing. Nice thing to discover.
habakak
@Ivan. The issue about base load is valid. However I did not say or try to imply we will not be using any fossil fuels in 25 years. It is unreasonable to think all fossil fuel use will top in 25 years. It won't have to. Reducing it by 20% (of say 1990 levels) will be more than good enough. And over time it will drop even more. And if we have breakthroughs in fusion (unlikely but the Stellerator reactor is having major breakthroughs) fossil fuels could go away in 50 years. Not betting on it, but my main point is that fossil fuel use will dramatically drop over the next 25 years. Enough to make worry over global warming a non-issue. The human race will however find something else to unnecessarily obsess about. It's human to have apocalyptic fears. And with industrial scale batteries (and think of the billions of vehicles that eventually will be storage that can act as base load) base load can be provided from renewables. I don't see that happening in 25 years, but it will be deployed and accelerating fast in 25 years.