Oil-eating bugs may unlock clean energy from crude
If this works, these bugs are going to be unlocking oil like Barry Bonds unlocks home run records.
A tiny oil-eating bug that lives deep underground may allow the world's oil industry to unlock energy trapped in trillions of barrels of heavy crude, which is costly and dirty to produce using today's methods.
British, Canadian and Norwegian researchers have shown how microbes in oil reservoirs break down crude and release methane gas, a discovery that could spur much more environmentally friendly energy production as resources get more scarce.
The trick now will be to pump up the organisms with the equivalent of steroids so they can perform their task in 10 years instead of 10 million, said University of Calgary geologist Steve Larter, who led the team's Canadian contingent. The study is published in the science journal Nature.
The result: the ability to produce natural gas from oil reservoirs, rather than burning it from conventional sources to aid production of gooey heavy crude.