Cool news on the renewable energy front from Joseph Torella and colleagues published in a recent PNAS.
The upshot: use photovolatic cells to provide electicity to a cobalt-phosphate catalyst that splits water into O’s and H’s, then feed those split-off H’s to an engineered soil bacteria, Ralstonia eutropha, to generate isopropanol (C2H80). Its a closed system–a bionic leaf about as efficient in generating CHOs as corn (without all those Nitrogen inputs).
Now as an ecologist, my thought is that these engineers better spend a lot of time generating new variants of Ralstonia. All that genomically identical biomass in all those bionic leaves across the land is going to be a rewarding target for the first virus that evolves a hankering for pampered Ralstonia. I wonder if the cellulosic bioenergy folks are running into similar problems?