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Supercharged Carbon Fixing

December 6, 2016

Scientists demonstrate a new process for harvesting and utilizing carbon dioxide.



Harvesting CO2. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Imagine taking carbon dioxide emitted from cars and factories and turning it into useful compounds. It’s called “carbon fixing,” and plants do it all the time using photosynthesis. But biochemist Thomas Schwander at the Max Planck Institute says photosynthesis is slow and inefficient. In the journal Science, he and his colleagues describe a supercharged carbon fixing system using enzymes taken not just from plants, but from bacteria, humans and other organisms.

THOMAS SCHWANDER (Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology):

And so we learn from biology, but you also engineer biology with synthetic methods to create something which you would call synthetic metabolism of the future.


Schwander says they could use it to engineer algae, crops or other living cells; or even design synthetic cells, optimized to harvest carbon dioxide. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon