Off-topic musings this morning, folks. If you’re here for code, that’s coming this afternoon; right now, we’re talking about science and using the word “poop” about a half-dozen times. Keep in mind, I’m not a chemist or a biologist; after I finish summarizing the article, it’s all pie-in-the-sky layman speculating for my own amusement.
So I was reading this article, the gist of which is that scientists have managed to tweak a particular microbe until it essentially eats carbon dioxide and poops out another compound which can apparently be used in a wide range of industrial procedures. At the end of the article, they mention that future modifications could give us a version of the microbe that poops out carbon-neutral fuel instead. And that’s where the little cogs in my mind start to turn.
Let’s say they do get the fuel-pooping version working. It takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, right? What if we could build some sort of blimp or hot-air balloon, and coat the exterior of the balloon in some sort of growth medium for the microbe? We’d have an airborne air-scrubber, assuming the growth medium didn’t completely throw off the dirigible’s weight balance and cause a crash. Put a few of these balloons on tethers, hovering above industrial buildings, and we might be able to neutralize a good chunk of emissions right at the source. Come to think of it, this would work with the version they have now that poops industrial materials.
Of course, we’d need a way to collect the by-products of the microbes on the balloon. The article wasn’t clear on what state the microbes poop out their by-products in, but if it liquid then the balloon could be designed to taper to a point, allowing it to roll down and drip into some sort of collection pan. That would probably work for solid matter as well, though the pan might need to be wider than the balloon. And let’s say that the tethers keeping these balloons in place above the smokestacks and exhaust fans are actually just flexible chutes, leading down to some sort of collection box.
Now, there’s a business opportunity involved. A factory could set up their balloon and collection box, and sell the by-products or even just use it to reclaim their own emissions as material that they can re-use. A person could go into business just installing and maintaining these collection systems, in factories or even over high-traffic roads on contract to the government.
Hell, if you designed a blimp-like vehicle that automatically collected and ran on the fuel produced by it’s own microbes, and stored the excess, you could sell your services piloting it back and forth above areas with high air pollution. Remember, the article speculated that the fuel produced would be carbon-neutral, so as long as the blimp used less fuel than the microbes produced, it would get the job done. The question is, how efficiently would it do that.
Of course, we run into the problem of what to do with the stored carbon-neutral fuel; obviously if we use it, we’re right back to the same carbon situation. But I’ve got some more far-out places to take this idea, which I’ll flesh out in another post later. Now I’m a few minutes late for Database Administration.