Florida – After a type of bacteria was plucked from the bottom of the ocean, researchers from the University of Florida found it could be put to work neutralizing large amounts of industrial carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.

In order to transform carbon dioxide obtained from fossil fuels, that are the major contributors to atmospheric greenhouse gases, it is required a durable heat-tolerant enzyme. The process of capturing and neutralizing gases is known as sequestration. The bacteria found is known as Thiomicrospira crunogena and serves by producing anhydrase an enzyme that helps remove carbon dioxide in several organisms.

Credit: USC Dornsife

The bacteria meets all requirements by resisting high temperatures needed during the process of reducing industrial carbon dioxide, said Robert McKenna, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UF College of Medicine according to University of Florida.

The main goal is to produce a variant of the enzyme that is both heat-tolerant and fast-acting, enough to be used in industrial settings. In this sense, researchers later can improve on it’s stability and longevity, which are important factors to be addressed before the enzyme could be put into widespread industrial use.

McKenna and other scientists around the world have been hardly trying to find a way to neutralize carbon dioxide with carbonic anhydrase. But finding the best enzyme and putting it to work in an efficient and affordable carbon sequestration system has been challenging.

 “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,” he said.

Source: University of Florida