Scientists invent … a tree?

There was a great article over at WUWT on a new scientific breakthrough where 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 fuels.” […]

Yadda, yadda, yadda, save the planet, eat the CO2 etc.

The best bit though was the comments:

Brian R: What’s one of the things greens hate most? Plastic. It’s right up there with oil and CO2. Now, how are the greens going to react to reducing CO2 but producing plastic. Prepare for exploding watermellons everwhere.

Max Porath: If it works, Nagpal may be able to end all life on Earth some day when his organism gets lose and eats every available molecule of CO2. What a great idea. NOT!

Tom Halla: OMG! Another renamed biofuels program, with new verbiage . Pond scum will save us?

PhilJ: I see a sci-fi doomsday novel playing out from this.. Microbes escape holding pond… We’ve lost containment… Propagating at enormous rate… Co2 levels in atmosphere dropping dangerously low… Etc etc…

Joel O’Bryan: “…that eat harmful CO2 and convert it into useful products such as biodegradable plastic, gasoline, ammonia and biodiesel.”

Harmful CO2????
This writer of this U-Reek-Alert clearly is just a journalism major with no clue how biology and photosynthesis drives every higher biological system on this planet.

As for quantum dots collecting solar energy, I would suggest folks here at WUWT do some study on what real science knows about the Chlorophyll-A active center and how thousands of chlorophyll macromolecules interlock to form a multi-spectral antenna array to the active center where photons can be collected and the electrons moved to the active center for the efficient reduction of water to O2 and hydrogen plus 2 electrons.

This is 2.5 Billion years of trial and error brought to likely perfection for the solar wavelengths we receive from our sun.

Human made quantum dots “got nutin’” on 2.5 billion years of chlorophyll biology.

JimG1: Great! Perhaps if these nano dot infected microbes go viral we can have a planet covered with microbes instead of green plants. Microbial salad, anyone?

Len Werner: Hey, I do believe I’ve heard of an organism that consumes CO2 and nitrogen, and with light produces a plastic-source material (cellulose) and fuel. I think it was called….a tree.

Curious George: An interesting research – an artificial photosynthesis, without chlorophyll. Including a speculation about practical applications. Sooner or later the researchers may discover algae.

Retired_Engineer_Jim: But if the gasoline and biodiesel so produced is burned, won’t it produce CO2?

Cube: Are these GMO plastic microbes?


All it needs is a few practical people with brains in gear to read the breathless excitement of journalists who understand nothing about science, and in a few short words we are back in the real world.