An enzyme called carbonic anhydrase found within a deep-sea bacterium has been successfully utilized by scientists at the University of Florida to remove existing carbon dioxide in a specimen. The bacteria can gradually curb the effects of abundant greenhouse gases and reduce their presence in the atmosphere, scientists said.
Gases like carbon dioxide and methane contribute greatly to the increase in the planet's temperature as they trap heat in the atmosphere, resulting in what is known as the "greenhouse effect." Most of these greenhouse gases are the byproducts of industrialization and are produced from the combustion of fossil fuels.
With this, researchers studied how carbonic anhydrase from Thiomicrospira crunogena (T. crunogena) bacterium can be utilized in removing the presence of carbon dioxide in an organism.
T. crunogena can be found in deep seas near hydrothermal vents, and scientists said that it can withstand environments with high levels of temperature. They believe that the bacteria's heat-resistant ability is suitable for reducing carbon dioxide found in industrial settings.
By acting as a catalyst between carbon dioxide and water, the carbonic anhydrase converts carbon dioxide into bicarbonate and triggers a chemical reaction. Bicarbonate is a harmless compound commonly found in household products such as chalk and baking soda.
In an industrial setting, the carbonic anhydrase would convert carbon dioxide as flue gas passes through a solvent with carbonic anhydrase in a purification system. Researchers have genetically engineered the E. coli bacteria to produce the enzyme, without harvesting more T. crunogena from the deep seas.
"It shows that it's physically possible to take known enzymes such as carbonic anhydrase and utilize them to pull carbon dioxide out of flue gas," said Robert McKenna, lead researcher and professor at the university.
Meanwhile, each activity that runs on oil produces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Data from the British Petroleum show that consumption of oil globally in 2003 had been more than 76 million barrels of oil per day. In the United States, energy consumption from burning fossil fuels accounts to 89 percent. Of that, 39 percent comes from oil consumption.
Even a living, breathing human being produces carbon dioxide and contributes to the increase in temperature.
Scientists from NASA explained that increasing human activities such as clearing lands for agriculture and industry have elevated the presence of greenhouse gases in the air. If this continues, some of the Earth's regions will become drier, and the thawing of frozen regions will ensue.