Tom Chivers
London Telegraph
Friday, August 6, 2010

Car fuel could be created from thin air using an enzyme from a common soil bacterium, say scientists. It is hoped that this will lead to a cheap way of making environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral ‘green’ fuel that can be used without major redesigns of car engines.

Azotobacter vinelandii, a microbe found around the roots of various food plants, creates an enzyme – vanadium nitrogenase – which in nature produces ammonia from nitrogen gas. But now it has been shown that it can also create propane, the fuel commonly used in camping gas stoves, out of carbon monoxide – a common byproduct of industrial processes.

Markus Ribbe, a scientist at the University of California, says that eventually the enzyme could be tweaked, so that instead of only making the simple three-carbon-atom chain molecule of propane, it could create the longer chains that make up petrol. He says: “Obviously this could lead to new ways to create synthetic liquid fuels if we can make longer carbon-carbon chains.”

Full story here.