Bio-Inspired Microreactors Continuously Synthesize Glucose Precursor from CO2 with an Energy Conversion Efficiency 3.3 Times of Rice

Yujiao Zhu, Fengjia Xie, Tommy Ching Kit Wun, Kecheng Li, Huan Lin, Chi Chung Tsoi, Huaping Jia, Yao Chai, Qian Zhao, Benedict Tsz Woon Lo, Shao Yuan Leu, Yanwei Jia, Kangning Ren*, Xuming Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Excessive CO2 and food shortage are two grand challenges of human society. Directly converting CO2 into food materials can simultaneously alleviate both, like what green crops do in nature. Nevertheless, natural photosynthesis has a limited energy efficiency due to low activity and specificity of key enzyme D-ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO). To enhance the efficiency, many prior studies focused on engineering the enzymes, but this study chooses to learn from the nature to design more efficient reactors. This work is original in mimicking the stacked structure of thylakoids in chloroplasts to immobilize RuBisCO in a microreactor using the layer-by-layer strategy, obtaining the continuous conversion of CO2 into glucose precursor at 1.9 nmol min−1 with enhanced activity (1.5 times), stability (≈8 times), and reusability (96% after 10 reuses) relative to the free RuBisCO. The microreactors are further scaled out from one to six in parallel and achieve the production at 15.8 nmol min−1 with an energy conversion efficiency of 3.3 times of rice, showing better performance of this artificial synthesis than NPS in terms of energy conversion efficiency. The exploration of the potential of mass production would benefit both food supply and carbon neutralization.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalAdvanced Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • artificial photosynthesis
  • enzyme immobilization
  • layer-by-layer
  • microfluidics
  • microreactors


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