Aid could come from unconsidered sources, as a the deep-sea bacteria that could help us against greenhouse gasses to combat the infamous issue affecting our planet’s climate.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major contributor to climate change
- Researchers found a bacteria, which produces carbonic anhydrase, that would help neutralizing carbon dioxide
- After the gas and the enzyme interact, it will result in bicarbonate
- The scientists will be working on making the enzyme more stable, and faster working
Researchers at the University of Florida have been investigating a bacteria taken from the bottom of the sea. It holds incredible qualities that could be exceptionally useful for alleviating the pressure of pollution from industrial settings. Specifically, it focuses on the release of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the major contributors affecting the greenhouse gasses mass forming in our atmosphere. It essentially helps in retaining the heat, thus increasing the problem of global warming. Most of the CO2 quantities are produced by fossil fuel combustion, creating a harmful waste known as ‘flue gas’.
Researchers have looked into a way of converting the carbon dioxide into a relatively less damaging compound. They found a possible solution in a bacteria called Thiomicrospira crunogena, found at the bottom of the ocean. The bacterium produces carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme which can remove carbon dioxide from organisms.
This presents with a very significant opportunity of applying its properties to real life industrial settings. According to Dr. Robert McKenna, carbonic anhydrase has a particularly useful trait of being already ready and evolved to deal with “extreme temperatures and pressure problems”. These are issues certainly met in industrial settings.
The researchers looked into a process called ‘sequestration’, where the carbon dioxide can be captured and neutralized. They believed that the enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, can be used for the particularly beneficial purpose.
How it works is that the enzyme will start a reaction between carbon dioxide and water. The CO2 will then interact with it, and the further convert into bicarbonate. The end result can further be processed into other products, such as chalk or baking soda. Effectively, what would be a harmful gas to our atmosphere could find a beneficial use.
In real-life industrial uses, the enzyme would be captured within a solvent, in a vessel, that would react as a ‘purification center’. The carbon dioxide gasses would then be passed through it, cause the aforementioned reactions, and use the compound to create bicarbonate.
Since its availability is not quite so open, given that it’s taken from the ocean floor, McKenna and the team of researchers from the University of Florida found a way to produce it in the laboratory. They used a genetically engineered version of the E. coli bacteria. The team has been successful in creating several milligrams, but there’s much more needed to be used on an industrial scale.
Furthermore, the scientists aims to tweak the enzyme in order to make it more stable and react much more quickly with the greenhouse gas. The basic roots and potential are already there. All that remains is some engineering brilliance, and we may yet be closer to resolving part of our world’s climate issues.
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