University of Michigan biological chemist Steve Ragsdale, along with research assistant Elizabeth Pierce and scientists led by Fraser Armstrong from the University of Oxford in the U.K., have figured out a way to efficiently turn carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using visible light, like sunlight.
The results are reported in the recent online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Not only is it a demonstration that an abundant compound can be converted into a commercially useful compound with considerably less energy input than current methods, it also is a method not so different from what organisms regularly do.
“This is a first step in showing it’s possible, and imagine microbes doing something similar,” Ragsdale said. “I don’t know of any organism that uses light energy to activate carbon dioxide and reduce it to carbon monoxide, but I can imagine either finding an organism that can do it, or genetically engineering one to channel light energy to coax it to do that.”
In this collaboration between Ann Arbor and Oxford, Ragsdale’s laboratory at the U-M Medical School does the biochemistry and microbiology experiments and Armstrong’s lab performs the physical- and photochemical applications.
Ragsdale and his associates succeeded in using an enzyme-modified titanium oxide to get carbon dioxide’s electrons excited and willing to jump to the enzyme, which then catalyzes the reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. A photosensitizer that binds to the titanium allows the use of visible light for the process. The enzyme is more robust than other catalysts, willing to facilitate the conversion again and again. The trick: It can’t come near oxygen.
“By using this enzyme, you put it into a solution that contains titanium dioxide in the presence of a photosensitizer,” he said. “We looked for a way that seems like nature’s way of doing it, which is more efficient.” Armstrong notes that “essentially it shows what is possible were we to be able to mass-produce a catalyst with such properties”.
The direct product – carbon monoxide – is a desirable chemical that can be used in other processes to produce electricity or hydrogen. Carbon monoxide also has significant fuel value and readily can be converted by known catalysts into hydrocarbons or into methanol for use as a liquid fuel. Although carbon monoxide serves as a source of energy and biomass for microbes, it is toxic for animals and this risk needs to be managed when it is generated or used in chemical reactions.
Research in Ragsdale’s lab was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health.
Ragsdale, a professor of biological chemistry at the U-M Medical School, is a fellow of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, which develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M.Ragsdale’s lab: www.biochem.med.umich.edu/?q=ragsdale
Sue Nichols | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy