30 May '16, 1pm
Harvard chemist engineers a superbug that converts inhaled CO2 into fuel
Nocera, known as the man who invented the artificial leaf five years ago, has been working in his research lab at Harvard to develop bacteria that could perform as well as plants, which convert carbon dioxide into fuel at a rate of about five percent. Skeptics said he would have a difficult time matching that rate, and many were stunned when the chemist announced that his engineered superbug converts sunlight 10 times more efficiently than plants. The bacteria, called Ralston eutropha , consumes hydrogen and CO2, and converts them into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nocera and his team drew from earlier research by Anthony Sinskey, a professor of microbiology at MIT, and inserted genes that cause the bacteria to convert the ATP to alcohol fuel and excrete it.