Light-powered nano-organisms consume CO2, create eco-friendly plastics and fuels

Iowa Climate Science Education

University of Colorado at Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Prashant Nagpal Credit: Casey A. CassUniversity of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Prashant Nagpal Credit: Casey A. Cass

University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Prashant Nagpal Credit: Casey A. Cass

University of Colorado Boulder researchers have developed nanobio-hybrid organisms capable of using airborne carbon dioxide and nitrogen to produce a variety of plastics and fuels, a promising first step toward low-cost carbon sequestration and eco-friendly manufacturing for chemicals.

By using light-activated quantum dots to fire particular enzymes within microbial cells, the researchers were able to create ?living factories? that eat harmful CO2 and convert it into useful products such as biodegradable plastic, gasoline, ammonia and biodiesel.

?The innovation is a testament to the power of biochemical processes,? said Prashant Nagpal, lead author of the research and an assistant professor in CU Boulder?s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. ?We?re looking at a technique that could improve CO2 capture to combat climate change and one day even potentially replace carbon-intensive manufacturing for plastics and…

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