Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Bacterial Enzyme for Improved Catalysts?

I always thought that living organisms would use more and more inorganic items and become more machine like. That humans were going to become cyborgs with artificial hips and hearts and metal exoskeletons and maybe a brain chip or two. Instead now I wonder if it might not go the other direction equally as fast: machines using more and more living beings to operate.

I previously wrote about a robot that eats flies for fuel. Today's example comes from an article in the Green Car Congress.

The catalytic complex described is a particular configuration of iron and sulfur atoms and the surrounding amino acids in an enzyme isolated from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans, a bacterium that can live in sulfur-rich environments without oxygen. The specific chemical function of the iron-sulfur complex in this bacterial enzyme is not yet known, but similar complexes of iron and sulfur play an important role in many enzymes, catalysts, and sensors.
In the future your car's catalytic converter could be a bunch of living bacteria that take air pollution and turn it into something less toxic.

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