Chinese scientists have created an efficient way of synthesizing carbon dioxide into energy-rich long carbon chain compounds like sugar and fatty acids, according to a study published on the journal Nature Catalysis on Thursday.

Experts said the technology may turn a common greenhouse emission into a valued product, which may present a new way to tackle environmental issues and achieve a sustainable economy.

The method consists of a hybrid electro-biosystem, combining carbon dioxide electrolysis – the process of passing electric current through a substance to affect a chemical change – and yeast fermentation. The system has efficiently converted the greenhouse gas to glucose or fatty acids, according to the study.

Zeng Jie, one of the correspondent authors of the study and a professor from the University of Science and Technology of China, said the progress essentially tries to convert carbon dioxide into acetic acid, which is the main component of vinegar and an excellent biosynthetic carbon source.

“Acetic acid can be transformed into other substances, such as glucose. Acetic acid can be obtained by direct electrolysis of CO2, but with ultra-low efficiency,” he said.

Moreover, the acetate produced by conventional electrocatalytic devices is always mixed with other byproducts, which cannot be directly used for biological fermentation. To tackle these challenges, researchers developed a special piece of equipment that can separate and purify the solution, and has the potential for large-scale practical use.

“The out-coming acetic acid from our device is very pure and concentrated, which can be directly consumed by the yeast as feedstock to produce glucose,” said Xia Chuan, a professor from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

“This demonstration is a starting point for realizing light-reaction-free artificial synthesis of important organic products from CO2,” said Yu Tao, a professor from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

作者 admin_philip