Skip to comments.Famed geneticist creating life form that turns CO2 to fuel
Posted on 03/01/2008 4:17:06 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
MONTEREY, California (AFP) - A scientist who mapped his genome and the genetic diversity of the oceans said Thursday he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel.
Geneticist Craig Venter disclosed his potentially world-changing "fourth-generation fuel" project at an elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, California.
"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."
Simple organisms can be genetically re-engineered to produce vaccines or octane-based fuels as waste, according to Venter.
Biofuel alternatives to oil are third-generation. The next step is life forms that feed on CO2 and give off fuel such as methane gas as waste, according to Venter.
"We have 20 million genes which I call the design components of the future," Venter said. "We are limited here only by our imagination."
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.
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.
Scientists put "suicide genes" into their living creations so that if they escape the lab, they can be triggered to kill themselves.
Venter said he is also working on organisms that make vaccines for the flu and other illnesses.
"We will see an exponential change in the pace of the sophistication of organisms and what they can do," Venter said.
"We are a ways away from designing people. Our goal is just to make sure they survive long enough to do that."
Kindo of disappointing that it took 3 posts before someone called this article into question.
Why don't we just cut out the middleman and bottle the CO2 and run our cars on that?
It even has a name.
It's called vegetation. It uses CO2 and you can make ethanol with it or burn it in those things the cave men called fire
Oh, no! What if they escape and eat ALL the CO2 and we freeze to death from global cooling?
"No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way. "
If it keeps getting colder, sequestering CO2 will soon be seen as a crime against humanity.
The article went on to say the same gentleman is simultaneously working on a project to turn cowsh*t into gold.
Craig needs to take a microbiology course. There are plenty of bacteria that convert CO2 and hydrogen into methane, they are called methanogens. The problem is that methane is also a deadly planet killing, polar bear drowning, greenhouse gas and when it is burned as a fuel, is converted back to CO2. Doesn’t really make sense does it?
This whole scheme bears an eerily disturbing resemblance to Vonnegut’s ICE-9 scenario in Cat’s Cradle.
...and sugar is what? Anyone? Anyone?
Whatever they do with it, it burns well in my fireplace.
We have to very careful with genetically modified organisms and especially, completely engineered ones.
Even today, we have absolutely no way of controlling bacteria. They live on every surface from the 50kms up to 5 kms under the earth. Until 200 years ago, we didn’t even know they existed.
Viruses, well that is another story.
I don’t think we should be engineering a potentially dangerous bacteria, especially for a completely made-up problem.
All you need to know.
Aren’t the things that cause mad cow disease (can’t recall the term for them) neither bacteria nor virus?
Thanks, but I’ll take an energy independence ping.
Well, at least the enviros won't be able to complain then - athough they may try from the afterlife.
Yeah, and genes mutate.