September 23, 2010

Frog foam could help mitigate climate change

The Túngara Frog, found in Central and South America, has been the inspiration behind an award winning foam which will be used in the fight against climate change.

Designed by scientists David Wendell’s and Carlos Montemagno’s the foam is destined for installation in the exhaust gas flues of massive coal-burning plants so as to capture carbon dioxide emissions. The eco foam is also capable of generating glucose sugars that can then be transformed into biofuel, but this end of Wendell’s project has yet to be completed. If ultimately successful in converting the glucose to biofuel, this product will make clean and green vehicle fuel without the need of using land which could be used for food.

The frog’s part in the development of this new gas extracting eco-foam boils down to a particular protein used by the Túngara frog as the structure, or scaffolding, in its foamy, bubbly nest. In nature, the protein harvests enzymes from bacteria and fungi to help it convert carbon dioxide into sugars. According to Wendell, the inspired foam can convert CO² to sugars faster than plants.

During the mating process, the male Túngara mixes a foam producing solvent produced by the lady frog to create a larger foamy nest which then protects fertilised eggs from dehydration or exposure to strong sunlight or high temperatures as well as pathogens.


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