Thursday, June 19, 2008

Synthetic Biology Aims to Solve Energy Conundrum



Field of corn in Manitoba, Canada (Photograph: Corbis)

Chris Edwards, The Guardian

You can power laptops - and, potentially cars - using hydrogen extracted from water. The trouble is that it takes a lot of electricity. A simpler way would be to do it naturally, using enzymes - proteins which catalyse reactions - and bacteria. These do exist: certain green algae and "cyanobacteria" can split water using photosynthesis to produce molecular hydrogen.

But to create a generation of cars that would run on water with some sludge in the back, we need to learn how to design our own bacteria and enzymes that can co-opt natural processes for our ends.


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