Ralstonia eutropha cultures. Flickr: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
The chemist who gave us the artificial leaf has genetically engineered bacteria to absorb hydrogen and carbon dioxide and convert them into alcohol fuel.
When Harvard Professor of Energy Daniel G. Nocera announced he was working with bacteria last year, other scientists cautioned it would be difficult to achieve a productive level of efficiency. At the time, Nocera was aiming for 5 percent efficiency—about 5 times better than plants.