They say a picture is worth a thousand words — but what happens when what you want to look at is impossible to see?

That’s where the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s Electrofuels program comes in. The 13 projects that make up the program seek to develop renewable liquid fuels that use microorganisms to harness chemical or electrical energy to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuels, without using petroleum or biomass. For example, scientists at Columbia University are using bacteria to optimize the conversion of carbon dioxide and ammonia into a liquid transportation fuel similar to gasoline.

If successful, the projects supported by ARPA-E could change the game – breaking our dependence on imported oil and powering our vehicles with homegrown fuels.

Check out the infographic above to see how tiny organisms are making a big impact, or see electrofuels projects in action at ARPA-E’s 2012 Energy Innovation Summit, held February 27-29 right outside Washington, D.C. For more information, visit