Aug 25, 2010

Science Scene - Exhaust as Fuel

Scientists have discovered a plant enzyme capable of turning carbon monoxide into propane, which lets us imagine a future where cars could run off their own exhaust.

The microbe Azotobacter vinelandii, found in the roots of many food plants including soy beans, creates the enzyme vanadium nitrogase, which produces ammonia from nitrogen found in the soil.  Scientists fed the enzyme carbon monoxide instead of nitrogen and found that it created short carbon chains, two or three atoms long -- essentially propane.

The scientists think that the enzyme could be modified to produce even longer chains until it ultimately produces gasoline.  If perfected, cars could run partially off of their exhaust or carbon monoxide in the air around them, reducing pollution and cutting down on the oil we use.

While it's being heralded as an amazing discovery, scientists say there's a lot of work left to do.  The enzyme is currently hard to extract and scientists are working on ways to mass produce it.  Lets hope that their efforts bare fruit so to speak :o)



  1. isn't this the same part of the plant that fixes the nitrogen from the air?

    fascinating! if i do future city again i'll may use this to research for our potential fuel source- last time we did hydrogen cells.


  2. Cars would not need to be refueled, if I am understanding this correctly. Makes me think of 'The Jetson' and their low emission 'cars'.

  3. I really believe that in the beginning God placed an answer, a remedy for everything here on our earth. But with the fall of Adam and his expulsion from the garden, many secrets were lost to us. Mankind has been on a journey, through science, rediscovering those secrets ever since.

  4. Necessity, the mother of invention. It's good to know at least some money is being spent on this type of research and development instead of drilling new oil wells.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)