WASHINGTON – University of California Los Angeles has made it possible to use electricity to power a car — even if the car isn’t electric.
Researchers at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering created a genetically engineered a microorganism that converts carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol, a form of alcohol, using electricity.
While it is possible in theory to use solar panels to convert the carbon dioxide by adding hydrogen, the researchers used electricity instead to make formic acid out of carbon dioxide for safety reasons. Bacteria then feasted on the formic acid to produce liquid fuel, which can be stored in cells.
This method is a possible solution to the problem of changing American infrastructure in order to accommodate electric vehicles. With the new method, the infrastructure wouldn’t have to change. Instead, liquid fuel would be produced using electricity, rather than relying on oil.
Fixating carbon dioxide into liquid fuel still releases carbon dioxide into the air, so it isn’t a solution that would improve the environment. But it would help alleviate the cost of gas, which is tied to rising crude oil prices.