Scientists Find Microbes That Eat Garbage, Excrete Crude Oil

Scientists Find Microbes That Eat Garbage, Excrete Crude Oil

This is a discussion on Scientists Find Microbes That Eat Garbage, Excrete Crude Oil within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; "Ten years ago I could never have imagined I'd be doing this," says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the ...

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Thread: Scientists Find Microbes That Eat Garbage, Excrete Crude Oil

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    Scientists Find Microbes That Eat Garbage, Excrete Crude Oil

    "Ten years ago I could never have imagined I'd be doing this," says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. "I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to — especially the ones coming out of business school — this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into."

    He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs — very, very small bacteria — so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as wood chips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

    Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us.

    Not that Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls "renewable petroleum." After that, he grins, "it's a brave new world."

    Pal is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in or near Silicon Valley that have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil from Saudi Arabia obsolete.

    "All of us here — everyone in this company and in this industry — are aware of the urgency," Pal says.

    Take that OPEC.
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    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    Read about this yesterday. I hope they can make something with it. Anything to get off foreign dependance for fuel and it's supposedly carbon negative which should make all the green nutcases happy.
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    VIP Member Array rodc13's Avatar
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    This is potentially very cool. Not a solution, in and of itself, but another piece of the puzzle. There are many, many possibilities as the science of genetic engineering advances.

    Here's a link to the full story:
    Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol - Times Online
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    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    I had some funny things to say, but they all were derogatory towards Saudis or Al Gore, so I refrained from typing.

    I will say this is awesome. I hope it is a truly viable method that will alleviate our dependence on foriegn oil.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Hm. If it can consume "garbage" with such efficiency, it can likely consume other things equally well. Reminds me of a novel called Dust, by Charles Pellegrino, in which microbes run amock and wreak havoc at many levels of the food chain.

    Still, if workable, it could help address problems with garbage and fuel, all at the same time. Of course, it wouldn't do much for problems of smog, acid rain and other exhaust-related problems from the burning of carbon fuels, but perhaps a distant, smog-eating, cousin gremlin could be found to do that part.
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    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Still, if workable, it could help address problems with garbage and fuel, all at the same time. Of course, it wouldn't do much for problems of smog, acid rain and other exhaust-related problems from the burning of carbon fuels, but perhaps a distant, smog-eating, cousin gremlin could be found to do that part.
    According to the Times article, they are carbon negative. I guess what they eat would give off more carbon than the fuel that they burn. So, that should help on that front.
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    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    I wonder if they could be geneticly altered to do the same with the garbage in the prison system.
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    Bug 'crap'...

    Regular...$1.50

    Mid Grade...$1.60

    Premium...$1.70

    Could be a possibility...
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    Member Array Spenser's Avatar
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    I'm thinking it would take a lot of bugs to even come close to a quarter of what this country uses in a day. How about oil excreting elephants?
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    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spenser View Post
    I'm thinking it would take a lot of bugs to even come close to a quarter of what this country uses in a day. How about oil excreting elephants?


    I've been to the zoo, that could get very messy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spenser View Post
    I'm thinking it would take a lot of bugs to even come close to a quarter of what this country uses in a day. How about oil excreting elephants?
    Thats funny stuff.

    As to the original post I think "wow cool". Then I start to think of sci-fi movies where the bugs mutate and the world dies. Kinda cool and kinda scary if you ask me.
    It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.

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    Wow... You know I thought this was a joke until I followed the links. Thanks too cool! haha So all we do is distribute these bugs around to farmers across the midwest and suddenly they become the new oil sultans, right? Potentially.. and I mean this is totally dependent on a lot of factors... but this /could/ bankrupt Saudi and the rest of the members of OPEC. Which could be very very bad.

    Though, so much for the ingenuity of Americans having disappeared. My only question is what kind of potential production levels are we looking at? Somehow I doubt they can produce enough oil to run all the cars and jets while still producing petroleum byproducts like plastics and everything else. But maybe I'm wrong... Very cool!
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    Member Array Spenser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SixBravo View Post
    My only question is what kind of potential production levels are we looking at? Somehow I doubt they can produce enough oil to run all the cars and jets while still producing petroleum byproducts like plastics and everything else. But maybe I'm wrong... Very cool!
    My point exactly. I never know who to believe about the environment when it comes to emissions, and I am personally not educated enough in that area to make an informed decision myself. I do know, however, that I want the price of gas to go down, and I want my country to get out of bed with the Middle East! Either that, or find a substitute for oil completely.
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